9 October 2018
After a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) pre-season poll ranked UCCS’ Men’s Golf team as No. 2 in the conference, a slow start might challenge that ranking.
“The level of play is there,” said Head Coach Phil Trujillo. “It’s just a slower start than we’d hoped.”
The team features just seven athletes, four of which are sophomores.
Prior to their first competition on Oct. 1, the men’s training had come mostly in the form of qualifying rounds — two to three rounds per week for several weeks — and had lacked any competition from other schools. Trujillo mentioned that this may have had a negative contribution to the team’s overall performance, so he is hopeful that their game will improve as the season progresses.
“There’s room for improvement on the scoring side of it,” Trujillo admitted. But he wanted to emphasize that the way the golfers are executing their strokes is right where it needs to be.
They are “shooting the ball well,” he said. “That part is great!”
It is the area of finishing where Trujillo sees the most room for improvement, as the majority of athlete’s scores are still above where they need to be to be able to compete with other schools in the RMAC.
“The improvement will come when guys start scoring to their level of play,” said Trujillo. “When that happens, the improvement comes really quick.”
Tanner Comes, a junior on the team, was praised as being the best scorer of the seven.
“He’s got so many shots under par, it’s ridiculous!” Trujillo explained, saying Comes is right where he needs to be going into competition.
Jack Duguid, a senior, is another athlete who has hit the mark in qualifying rounds, and is ready to compete. “He’s not as close to Tanner, but he’s under par,” said Trujillo, speaking of Duguid’s performance thus far.
Between the two of them, Comes and Duguid are sure to help the team, Trujillo said, but he wants the rest of the team to be on the same level. Once that happens, the team has a good chance of repeating their NCAA tournament appearance.
Last spring, the Mountain Lions appeared in the tournament as one of the top 20 golf teams in the NCAA, and finished ninth. A great accomplishment, as far as Trujillo is concerned.
Trujillo said that there is still hope this year for a repeat appearance because the team can play at the same level as last year.It is just a matter of enhancing the players’ scoring abilities, which depends largely on the individual effort of each athlete.
“Obviously, we’re doing everything we can,” Trujillo said, and while the team is not where he would like them to be just yet, they certainly have the potential to get there. “We’re so close, but so far.”
With them is Assistant Coach Colin Prater.
Prater, a two-time All-American, is a seasoned Mountain Lion, being on the golf team himself until his graduation this past May. His acquaintance with the program and the players is an asset that Trujillo said is welcoming, adding “It’s good to have guys like that” helping out the team, and teaching the players how to get through a round of golf “even when things are going bad.”
For Trujillo, Prater, and their athletes, their next competition is just a few days away, and they have little time to bring their skillset up to par. Oct. 15 marks the first of two days of the team’s regional preview in St. George, Utah, hosted by Dixie State.