UHV golf hopes to start spring season with wins (w/gallery)
Feb. 15, 2014 at 9:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 14, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.
Vance Edwards arrives at the Victoria Country Club golf course an hour before his fellow UHV teammates for practice.
He takes a few shots to get prepared for what could be a five-hour practice. It's a routine he's familiar with.
It's also a routine that helped him become the first UHV player to qualify for the NAIA National Men's Golf Championships last May. He finished tied for 20th at the championship in Salem, Ore.
Sunday, the UHV junior hopes to make another long journey - this time with his teammates, competing in the Claud Jacobs Intercollegiate.
For Edwards, it's a long way from when the Corpus Christi native decided to play golf instead of baseball at age 12.
"I worked my butt off, really, and it just paid off," Edwards said about last season. "Last year, we were really young. I was the oldest on the team, and I was a sophomore."
Steve Jones, who practices with Edwards, believed the freshmen players on last year's team weren't acclimated to the college level.
In the 2013 fall season, UHV finished second at the UHV Fall Invitational and claimed first in the Talamonti Invitational.
"We needed that confidence to say 'Hey, we can actually step up and win a tournament,'" Jones, a junior, said. "In a tournament, you probably have 10 to 15 highs and lows, so you got to learn to balance and stay mentally strong the entire tournament."
This season, five freshmen joined the team. UHV coach Brian Williamson wants his players to perform well Sunday, starting with his experienced players.
"As they learn more, their confidence grows, and that's exactly what happened with Vance and Steve," Williamson said. "They're very different players than they were two years ago. They listened to me and have done what I asked them to do. We have some of the same players, but those players blossomed over the summer."
Sunday's event for the men's team will take place at the Victoria Country Club.
The makeup of Sunday's first-round action of the Claud Jacobs Intercollegiate will consist of eight of the top 25 NAIA ranked teams. Last year's champion, Northwood, will also be competing.
"You've got seven or eight top teams in the nation," said Claud Jacobs, whom the event is named after. "This early in the season, it gives them a chance to play for national rankings."
With ranked teams competing in Sunday's event, the pressure could be on for UHV to perform well.
"The pressure is all the same," Jones said. "It's just a matter of trying to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes as possible."
Edwards believes this year's team can and should compete well.
"We tried our best to win, and we came up short," Edwards said about last year's finish. "We had three guys on our top five that played well last year. I think we got to finish in the top five. The goal is to win."
Women's team relaxed heading into tournament
Freshman Heather Shake shrugged off setting goals for the UHV women's golf team.
"I try not to expect anything out of myself or my teammates just cause," Shake said. "I think that puts pressure not only on myself but them."
UHV finished seventh at the Claud Jacobs Intercollegiate last season.
UHV coach Brian Williamson sees the team's chances only getting better.
"Right now, the women are having fun, and that's what I want to see," Williamson said. "The more relaxed they are, the better they are going to play."
During last season's tournament, Oklahoma City claimed first place.
"Last year was completely different. The team did very well," said junior Becky Benchot. "We were new, but now, we're not. We know the course. It's not that difficult. We practice here every day."
The women's event will take place at The Club at Colony Creek beginning Sunday.
"We're going to do well anyways, even if there is pressure on us," Shake said. "We know the course and we know ourselves."
In December, Shake won the Texas Collegiate Amateur Tour's Collegiate Championship.
The women's team finished the fall season among the top 25 teams in the NAIA, finishing tied for 21st.
"They're motivated," Williamson said. "I'm having to watch them when the weather's bad to make sure they didn't get frostbite."
The team wants to continue the success it had in the fall. Sunday, its journey to do that begins.
"We want to be ranked up there in the top," Benchot said. "We just got to remember, 'Focus on one shot at a time.'"
Claud Jacobs Collegiate Invitational
Victoria Country Club
First place: 132 - Jimmy Rouse, Aaron New, James Marchesani (Oklahoma City No. 1), Anthony Marchesani (Oklahoma City No. 2)
Second place: 132 - Ron Seerden, Daron Seerden, Shane Gilbert (Southwestern No. 1), Seth Bryan (Southwestern No. 2)
Third place: 133 - Timmy Janssen, Rusty Smith, Anders Ellingsberg (Wayland Baptist No. 1), Ryan Connolly (Wayland Baptist No. 2)
Fourth place: 133 - Dr. Bob Westbrook, Ron Willms, Jose Mario Vega (Bellevue No. 1), Thomas Ovejero (Bellevue No. 2)
The Club at Colony Creek
First place: 127 - Tom Key, Ron Sitka, Fariza Zain, Daniela Martinez (Northwood)
Second place: 133 - George Barnett, Richard Schmidt, Hannah Mason, Kailey Campbell (Southwestern)
Third place: 133 - Robert Furgerson, Mike Pizalate, Elia Folch, Kailey Campbell (Oklahoma City)
Fourth place: 135 - David Poth, Steve Franz, Nicola Jefferies, Carol Galindo (Northwood)