An up and down fall season is over for Oregon men’s golf.
Although a season-opening win at the Husky Invitational and Aaron Wise’s individual title at the Jackrabbit were strong starts, Oregon’s fall went south thereafter.
The Ducks finished 10th at the Nike Golf Intercollegiate, an event they co-hosted, and finished 6th at the Gifford Collegiate, their last tournament of the fall.
“I was disappointed a little bit,” head coach Casey Martin said. “I didn’t think we played like we’re capable of.”
This fall was a stark contrast to last fall, when the Ducks won all four of their tournaments and were briefly ranked no. 1 in NCAA men’s golf. But last year’s team took a step back in the spring when it mattered most. This year, the Ducks are hoping to reverse the trend and hit their stride as the stakes get higher. On the horizon, the Ducks have their sights set on the 2016 NCAA Championships, which the Ducks will host at the Eugene Country Club – their home course.
“We just gotta keep working on it,” senior Zach Foushee said. “Our goal is to win the national championship, and that’s what we’re ultimately striving for. These are just little steps. The spring is more important than the fall.”
Before spring season begins, the Ducks now get some much-needed rest. As Martin noted, most of his players have been playing golf frequently since January. After the NCAA season ends in June, many play through the summer in amateur tournaments, with little time in between the start of fall season.
“Honestly, I give the guys a lot of leeway in November – they’re tired,” Martin said. “Pretty much everyone’s been competing since January… This is the time where you hopefully get caught up in school, breathe a little bit and get the batteries recharged.”
But the Ducks certainly have some work to do between now and February, when their spring season begins with the Amer Ari Invitational in Waikoloa, Hawaii.
Martin is comfortable with his playing lineup of Wise, Foushee, junior Thomas Lim and redshirt junior Sulman Raza, though the fifth spot is still a question mark. Senior Brandon McIver has dealt with a nagging wrist injury through much of the fall, and didn’t play in the Gifford Collegiate.
“We’ve had some guys, Brandon in particular, whose had some injuries and hasn’t played great when he’s come back,” Martin said. “But we do need Brandon to get healthy and play like he’s capable of, because he’s a big part of what’s happened here the last few years.”
True freshman Edwin Yi replaced McIver at the Gifford, but shot a combined (+11) over three rounds, placing 45th in the tournament.
Oregon’s spring season will be one the most important in the history of the program. In the meantime, the Ducks will enjoy a three-month layoff before regrouping for the stretch run.
“Hopefully this year, even though we’re starting a little slower, guys can make those adjustments and we can get that mojo back in the spring when it counts,” Martin said.
Follow Will Denner on Twitter @Will_Denner