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Men’s golf season starts strong

Lee Masten

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Lee Gearhart 4

Sophomore golfer Lee Gearhart clips the green during a swing. Photo credit: Emily Teague

 

The Wildcat men’s golf team kicked off the 2014 season with a strong come-from-behind win at the Cal State San Bernardino Coyote Classic tournament during the last weekend of February.

 

The ‘Cats were behind on the final day of the tournament, but they were able to come back and win the tournament with a strong performance.

Lee Gearhart, sophomore and California Collegiate Athletic Association Golfer of the Week, placed first in that tournament and has high hopes for the season as it continues. However, the team’s success is what really counts.

 

“It was pretty unexpected in how we were able to come back,” Gearhart said. “I began to play a lot better the last nine holes and the rest of the guys on the team stepped it up and were able to outplay the other teams. It was a great way to start out the year.”

Getting the entire team to nationals is the goal and the Wildcats, ranked seventh in the NCAA, will work to get there. The team will also rely heavily on senior Chris Doyle’s leadership and abilities for a chance at success.

 

“I’m the only member of the team this season that has played in a national championship, so I know what it takes to get there and how good it feels to be there,” Doyle said. “I try to teach the younger guys and convey the message every chance I get.”

 

Chico State golfers have worked hard over the past few months after a fall 2013 season that didn’t end quite the way they wanted. A poor showing at the final tournament last season has the team ready and motivated. This season’s roster has veteran talent that will help them compete with the top teams in the CCAA.

The ’Cats have a very diverse team; they pull talent from all over the map.

 

Several golfers come from places like Washington, Arizona, Oregon and even Australia. They will need to work hard and learn from each other to play at the high level that they are expected to be at.

 

The Wildcats also have a fairly young team this year. The team consists mostly of sophomore and first-year students. With so much young blood, the team will be looking for head coach T.L. Brown’s expertise.

 

“We had a really young team last year,” Doyle said. “So his coaching and guidance has really been a necessity this year and last.”

 

Brown has gained the respect of the team and has them playing at a high level so far. The ’Cats were able to place second among many Division I competitors in the Sacramento State Intercollegiate Cup last weekend.

Chico State was able to put together a great team effort and beat teams from all over the continent. Schools like Boise State, University of Nevada, University of Northern Colorado and even the University of British Columbia participated in the tournament, but the ’Cats were able to place second.

 

Chico State golfers managed to crush CCAA rival Cal State Bakersfield by 71 shots. The team saw a strong finish from sophomore Justin Wiles as he tied for sixth place overall. Gearhart tied for twelfth.

 

“We have been playing very well and I can’t wait to see what we do this season,” Gearhart said. “We are a very competitive team and I know we can go very far.”

 

Chico State will try to keep the momentum on their side and push each other after the strong start.

 

“No golfer is ever satisfied,” Doyle said. “I’ve had some bright spots and some low points, but I’ve come to realize that when I put the team first and work my hardest for them, the individual accolades will come along naturally.”

 

 

Lee Masten can be reached at[email protected] or @lee23masten on Twitter.

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Men’s golf season starts strong