Winning a Northwest Conference championship and advancing to the national tournament remain the goals for the Linfield men’s golf team throughout the 2013-14 season.
Wildcats coach Greg Copeland must reinvent a roster that took major hits by way of transfers, injuries and academic ineligibility. Despite the cosmic shift in personnel, there’s talent remaining. Coupled with the team’s desire to excel, Linfield should be in position to collect its fifth NWC crown in seven seasons.
“We are going to have to work hard all year and have our games in order before each tournament,” said Copeland. “Guys are going to have to play good golf - find the fairways, put the ball in position around the greens that give them the best opportunity to make par or better, and don’t take excessive risks that lead to possible high scores on a hole. They must learn to put themselves into a position where bogey would be the worst score they could make on a hole.”
With mainstays Taylor Klopp, Taylor Pirnke Logan Munson and A.J. Taylor, the Wildcats have a solid nucleus to build around. Kyle Hargrave has a tremendous upside, according to his coach, and freshmen, Sam McLain and Nate Pellatz are expected to push for playing time.
“This group has already shown great dedication to practicing and getting better. The team has great chemistry and will only get better,” said Copeland. “A good example of the commitment level is Kevin Kawasaki – he struggled last year trying out for the first time after playing baseball the year before. Kevin played golf nearly every day this summer, working on his game. His swing is looking great, he played really well in the qualifying rounds this fall.”
The roster is diverse, featuring one senior, five juniors, a sophomore and four freshmen.
“I’m impressed how the older guys are all being leaders and accepting of the new talent that we have. The freshmen are getting more comfortable and confident as we go forward. It’s fun to watch them getting better each week.”
The Wildcats are moving on without Adam Ruben, winner of last season’s NWC Championship tournament. Ruben was declared ineligible when it was discovered he did not have enough course credits to maintain satisfactory progress. The Wildcats also are at least temporarily without senior A.J. Taylor (injured) and senior Tommy Schmitz (academic ineligibility). Both could return in the spring.