Spring Tee: Men’s golf prepares to return to the green

Article Originally Published by John Fields on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by John Fields on North Texas Daily

After competing in one tournament during the fall nearly four months ago, North Texas men’s golf is set to return with five official tourneys this spring. Following an individual competition on Feb. 8, the Mean Green will officially start their spring slate on Feb. 14-16 with the All-American Intercollegiate in Houston.

“It’s a great start of the season to have two really good tournaments coming up,” Junior Lenny Bergsson said. “We’re all psyched to get out there and play. It’s exciting times, and hopefully, we can shoot some good scores out there.”

Following their No. 6 finish at the Maridoe Collegiate Invitational in October 2020, the Mean Green rose to a No. 7 national ranking by Golfweek magazine. While the Mean Green are currently ranked No. 19 in the Golfweek poll and unranked in the official Golfstat poll, their showing at Maridoe gave the team confidence with wins over highly-ranked opponents like Texas Tech University (ranked No. 15 by Golfweek) and the University of Kansas (ranked No. 24 by Golfweek).

“The Maridoe event was the strongest field of any tournament in the fall,” Head coach Brad Stracke said. “We placed sixth in that tournament, which was a great finish for us. […] I think that gave the guys a lot of confidence, let them kind of know where they’re at nationally and that sort of thing.”

In the Maridoe tournament, Argentinian freshmen Diego Prone and Vicente Marzilio made their collegiate debuts and were the team’s top two finishers. Marzilio tied for No. 17 individually at 7-over-par while Prone tied for No. 21 at 8-over-par. Marzilio said coming into the tournament with low expectations fueled his and Prone’s success.

“We were really motivated to play in that field,” Marzilio said. “Being our first tournament, our expectations weren’t very high to be honest. I think that really helped us because we just went there and played. […] Low expectations going into that week helped us to just play golf and be ourselves.”

With upperclassmen like redshirt-senior Sean Wilcox (a graduate transfer from the University of Tennessee), senior Viktor Forslund and Bergsson bringing experience to the team, Bergsson said the two freshmen performing well will enhance the team’s depth this spring.

“Our team has grown a lot over the years,” Bergsson said. “It’s been good, but we always needed those fourth and fifth scorers. It was really nice to see the freshmen come up and really show what they’ve got. They blew us away with how good they played in their first college tournament. It’s promising, so hopefully, we can stay on the right track and keep on doing good things.”

The Mean Green’s depth will be an important factor this spring as they are set to compete in tournaments hosted by the University of Houston, Texas A&M and Southern Methodist University.

“We have a really good schedule,” Stracke said. “We play against the top teams in the country week in and week out. Every tournament is important and every field’s gonna be strong. We just have to not look too far ahead and look at each tournament like it’s the same and just get ready for each one of them.”

One new addition to the team this spring is freshman Nikhil Gopal. Hailing from South Africa, Gopal has posted five top-10 showings in the last two years and ranked as high as No. 289 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

“Nikhil is adjusting well, he’s learned a lot,” Stracke said. “He’s a little bit behind the other guys because they’ve played Maridoe more times than he has and he has to qualify [for tournaments] on Maridoe. […] He really doesn’t have any weaknesses, he’s a good putter, chipper, ball striker. Time will tell how he does in the tournaments, but I’m very confident in his abilities.”

Having dealt with a nearly four-month-long layoff since their lone tournament of the fall, Marzilio said the team is excited to return to competition with five tournaments this spring.

“We’ve been working a lot on our mental skills and our confidence,” Marzilio said. “Regardless of if it’s a Monday or game day, we want to put the same attention into every day. […] It’s an awesome team, we really have a great time and being in a tournament is always better. Talking about results, we know we can get to nationals and we are really excited for that, so it’s just trying to put [in] all the work and see if we can make that happen.”

Featured Image: Junior Robert Garcia tees off during a practice round on Feb. 5, 2021. Image by Zach Del Bello

Source: North Texas Daily