Men’s golf struggles in fall season

By Tom Burton

DeKALB | The Men’s golf team closed out the fall portion of its season Tuesday as it competed in the Pine Tree Intercollegiate in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The team struggled in this tournament, finishing in tenth place out of 11 competing teams.

The team finished with a score of 316 in the final round, the highest team score in the field on the last day.

“The golf course beat us up pretty good,” said Head Coach Tom Porten. “The Huskies were not up to the challenge at Pinetree [Country Club] this time around.”

The Huskies (309-309-316 — 934) were led by sophomore Salvador Rocha (85-73-79 — 227), who finished in the top 30 as an individual for the tournament.

The coaching staff said they noticed, once again, the greens proved to be the biggest challenge for the Huskies.

“We got a lot of time to practice [on the greens],” Porten said. “We thought we were ready but when the lights came on, we didn’t perform.”

The coaching staff said, overall, they were happy with what they saw in the first part of the season and look to progress in the spring. Porten said the team improved a lot this year in the intangibles of preparing and executing in events.

“Our pre-game intentions were good all season,” Porten said. “On the course, they’re learning how to be better game managers.”

The team had success in the fall, but not everything was up to par. Porten said the team’s biggest defect it needs to improve on for the spring season is having good shots off of the tee.

“We’re not hitting the ball in the fairway enough as a team to give ourselves an opportunity to hit greens and make birdie putts,” Porten said. “[The team is] not going to contend if we’re scrambling for pars.”

The Huskies hope to improve to reach the ultimate goal of qualifying for the NCAA Division I National Championship tournament hosted by Rich Harvest Farms, 7S771 Dugan Road, Sugar Grove, which is currently seeking volunteers to help out in the event.

Porten said the recent success of talented sophomore Salvador Rocha made him one of the standouts for this year’s team.

“I really like the progression that [Rocha] is making in his sophomore year,” Porten said. “He is really making strides in his game and his maturity.”

Porten said the Huskies hope to get even more spark in the spring season as they plan on bringing in a couple of transfer students for the team, and they could use one or two additions because of the slow development of the team’s new players.

“[The freshmen] didn’t play terribly, but they did not make the impact that we thought they would coming into the season,” Porten said. “We were hoping for a little bit faster [of] development from them, but I expect them to perform well in the spring.”

A low-scoring addition will provide help for the Huskies in the spring season as the team will be without arguably its best player, senior Joo-Young Lee, for the remainder of the season.

After several weeks under the NCAA concussion protocol, team executives, along with Lee, made the difficult decision to medically redshirt him for the remainder of the season.

Lee will complete his final year of athletic eligibility starting in fall 2017.

Porten said he believes this team can handle any adversity and the team is skilled enough to reach its ultimate goal of reaching the NCAA Championships.

The team has a lot of talent and drive, Porten said.

The Huskies will open their spring season Feb. 25 at the Loyola Intercollegiate at Palm Valley Golf Club in Goodyear, Arizona.