‘Tournament rusty’ golfers struggle in early-season play

Tough schedule, harsh weather conditions have hurt the team this spring.

As coach Brian Quinn’s father would say, “There are no moral victories in golf.”

The Owls have been off to a slow start during their first three events of the spring season, and Quinn said the team has had only “marginal” success this semester.

In the first tournament of the spring, the Tiger Invitational in Opelika, Ala., the golf team finished 14th out of 15 teams. Before the invitational, the team spent a week in Florida to practice during Spring Break. The team was able to practice their putts, after only being able to practice almost exclusively indoors throughout the winter. The rust was evident. Quinn said he knew his team would be rusty, and that the student-athletes are “working some of the kinks out.”

The trip to Florida allowed the team to play 36 holes a day, but did not prepare players for competition.

“We were tournament rusty,” sophomore Brandon Matthews said. “We weren’t swing rusty or golf rusty.”

A week after the Tiger Invitational, the team tied for 13th at the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate in Williamsburg, Va. Players said an unlucky set of tee times hindered the team’s performance all weekend. The first day, the Owls competed in the morning wave while it was pouring rain and near-freezing temperatures. The afternoon wave played in warm, sunny conditions. The next day the Owls played in cold weather again.

“I would say we got the short end of the stick on it,” senior Matt Crescenzo said. “It’s still no excuse.”

In his eight years of coaching at Temple, Quinn said he has seen only one other tournament with worse weather than what he experienced at  the Middleburg Bank Intercollegiate.

“The changing of the day, from morning to afternoon, that was so severe,” Quinn said. “It was such a clear advantage for those teams earlier… That hurt us.”

“It’s tougher when you are not swinging well and when you’re coming off winter, to hit the ball well in those conditions,” Matthews said.

Days later, the team went on to finish tied for 10th at the Furman Intercollegiate. Matthews and Crescenzo placed fourth and tied for 26th out of 111, respectively. But Quinn said the team could have done more.

“We’re a better team than we scored… I was a little disappointed with our finish,” Quinn said.

“Bottom line, we got unlucky,” Matthews said. “You’re going to get some bad ones. You just have to fight through it.”

The team will look to improve in the standings it plays at the Princeton Invitational on Saturday and Sunday. Last year, the Owls played strong and finished in second place. Expectations to match that finish are high among the players.

“We expect to win,” Crescenzo said. “We have the ability and our team is good enough to win that event.”

The team’s confidence, golfers said, comes from playing a tough schedule. The Owls are playing in a highly competitive schedule to help prepare them for the American Athletic Conference Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., – which will be held April 27-29.

“I think this semester’s schedule is one of the toughest in the country – it pushes all of the kids to become better players,” Quinn said.

Michael Guise can be reached at michaelguise@temple.edu or on Twitter @MikeG2511.

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