Mike Watney is doing what he can to shake off last seasonâ€”one of the worst in his tenure coaching Menâ€™s golf.
â€œWe just did not have a good year and we didnâ€™t qualify for the NCAA,â€ Watney said.
The goal for this year is to win the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship and to â€œmake wavesâ€ in the NCAA, Watney said.
Last yearâ€™s team had many first-year players who were matched up against veterans from other teams.
Now that the young players have more experience, they are expected to perform much better.
There were a few players who ended last season on a high note.
Sophomore Grant Doverspike won the WAC Championship Tournament last season and was named First-team all-conference.
He also received the teamâ€™s Most Outstanding Player Award and Outstanding Freshman.
â€œComing in, one of my goals last season was to win at least one tournament,â€ Doverspike said. â€œFortunately I won the tournament that counted, the WAC Championship.â€
Along with Doverspike, junior Matt Ryan was an all-conference golfer. Ryan was also named the teamsâ€™ Most Valuable Player.
â€œI think weâ€™re going to do really good,â€ Ryan said. â€œWe are going to surprise some people this year.â€
Although a goal is to be the conference champions, Ryan is anticipating the USC Southwest Invitational due to its competition and location.
Matt Shaw, a junior from Clovis, is another player to watch, Watney said.
He was selected as the co-captain this year and received the teamâ€™s Bulldog Award for being an excellent teammate and outstanding sportsmanship.
Although he will not be playing in the first tournament of the season, he is expected to play in all remaining tournaments.
â€œHe has more experience than anyone on the team,â€ Ryan said. â€œHeâ€™s pretty much the team leader.â€
Michael Gideon, a freshman from Lancaster, Calif., was able to beat his teammates and win a spot in the teamâ€™s first tournament.
â€œWe have definitely improved a lot and are going to be a lot better this year,â€ Doverspike said. â€œGideon is a really good freshman and will give our team depth.â€
The menâ€™s golf team was ranked 43rd in the September issue of Golf Digest.
â€œIâ€™m glad weâ€™re on the list but weâ€™ve been ranked higher than that,â€ Watney said. â€œForty-third does not [excite me].â€
The team has been ranked as high as third in the country, Watney said.
â€œI really do think that peopleâ€™s games are going to be elevated this year,â€ Watney said. â€œIt might not happen in the first tournament or two but we are going to have a pretty darn good year.â€
The teamâ€™s first tournament is the Oregon State Invitational on Sept. 17.
The Bulldogs host the Fresno State Lexus Classic March 3-4, 2008.