Season kicks off Sunday
Published: Friday, September 10, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 16:11
The men's golf season opens this Sunday, Sept. 12 at the sixth annual Gopher Invitational at the Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minnesota. Both the first and second rounds being played consecutively, with Monday's final round beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Led by head coach Jay Loar in his 13th year as a Mustang, the mustangs finished 10th in 2008, ninth in 2007, third in 2006, and 10th in 2005 in their history in Wayzata.
The par 72, 7,020-yard, course was designed by world famous golf course architect Tom Fazio, who has designed more top 100 courses in the U.S than anyone else in the world. Other notable courses include Coronado Golf and Beach Resort, Pinehurst No. 4, and TPC Myrtle Beach.
SMU is making its sixth consecutive appearance at the tournament, and return in 2010 as the defending invite champions. Last year the Mustangs set a tournament record with a 54-hole score of 855, good enough for the title at 9 under.
The 2009-2010 season was wrapped up with a 10th place finish at the 2010 NCAA Regional tournament at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Washington. After opening with combined averages of 307 and 294, a strong third-round finish of 287 allowed the Mustangs to tie with New Mexico.
Ben Tewes led the team tying for 16th overall with a team low third-round of 69 to being him to an overall score of 217. His graduation will put some pressure on senior Kelly Kraft to step up. Kraft tied for 29th at 221 at Regionals. Dragen Majors and Junior Matt Schovee tied for 48th at 225.
The men made notable strides last year, finishing 10th at the 2010 NCAA West Regional and fourth at the 2010 C-USA Championships, with only one senior on the roster this year, the younger guys are going to be called to help.
Senior Kelly Kraft is SMU's top returning player, as he led the team best stroke average of 71.85 in 2009. He took medalist honors at the 2009 Gopher Invitational with a tournament record 15-under, a three-round combined score of 201.
In June he was named to the Division I PING All-Central Region team, posted eight top-10 finishes, and named C-USA Golfer of the year with a ranking as high as No. 41 in the nation by Golfweek.
In preview of the season, reached the finals of the 110th North & South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst No. 2 in July, with a very impressive showing to warm him up for the season.
Junior James Kwon is among those called to step up, but has been known to perform under pressure. He chipped-in for birdie for a one-stroke lead on the final hole to win the South Amateur championship in August. A 54-hole total of 3-under led the tournament at High Meadow Ranch Golf club,
Sophomore Robert Mills from Houston Texas was named as one of 420 total student-athletes who earned Conference USA Commissioner's Academic Medals during the '09-'10 academic year. These are awarded to those student-athletes in C-USA who have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or better.
The men's team is looking solid for the 2010 season. Young as they are they have showed an excellent ability to compete as a team at a high level.
It's a good thing too, with a new $4 million practice facility at the Dallas Athletic Club in the makings. The facility will be designed to continue the team's legacy of greatness in the full development of the players with amenities including a 4-hole short course, and indoor hitting bays with swing analysis technology.
The 11th annual Payne Steward Cup tournament held in May will benefit the SMU Men's and Women's teams, and will act as a fundraiser for the facility, for which part of it will be named in Stewart's honor.