Like virtually every other sport at the University of Oregon, golf is on the rise. The men, led by head coach and amateur fashion consultant Casey Martin, made a tremendous run through the NCAA tournament, beating the Fuskies in the quarterfinals on the way to a third place finish. The women also made a leap last year, making their first NCAA Championship tournament since 2000. A look back at the offseason, and a look ahead to this season, after the jump.
This past summer was a fruitful one for the Oregon men, starting with junior Daniel Miernicki's brilliant play in Northern Ireland for the US Palmer Cup team in their win over Europe, the first on European soil since 2002. A pair of Ducks also played well in the Oregon Amateur championship. Junior Jack Paton finished second, and senior Isaiah Telles made the quarterfinals.
The men's team returns all five competitors from their championship run: Telles, Miernicki, junior Eugene Wong, junior Andrew Vijarro, and senior Jack Dukeminier. Paton should figure to contribute for the Ducks as well, along with sophomore Robbie Ziegler and senior Sean Maekawa. Rounding out the roster are sophomores Marshall Colby, Tyler Parker, Jack Pennington, and Jordan Skyles, and freshmen Ben Itterman and Tye Gabriel.
The Ducks start the fall with two early tests against the two teams they met in the NCAA Championship match play round, facing off against the Huskies at WA National Golf Club on September 20th before traveling to Stillwater, OK to face the OSU Cowboys on the 26th.
Head coach Ria Quiazon Scott is a West Coast woman through and through, having played collegiate golf at Cal and started her coaching career at San Francisco. The Philippines native came to Eugene last season and guided the Ducks to their first NCAA tournament appearance in ten years.
The team is led on the course by senior Kendra Little. The Sheldon High product has been named a 2nd Team All-Pac-10 selection all three years on the team, and capped her 2009-10 season with a 5-under-par 67 in the final round of the NCAA championships. Sophomore Cheyenne Hinkle had a great freshman year, finishing the season ranked in the top 200 nationally, and was the low UO scorer at the NCAA championships, finishing 57th. Also returning are junior Ashley Edwards and senior Erica Omlid, both NCAA championship scorers, and rounding out the roster are senior Monika Graf, sophomore Avery Sills, and freshman Raphaela Dyer.
The Ducks began their 2010-11 season Monday at Ptarmigan CC in Fort Collins, CO, finishing third behind Colorado and #12 Cal. Little finished seventh, with Edwards and Dyer also placing in the top 20. Rather than rest, the Ducks stay busy this week, flying to New Mexico to play at the UNM Invitational. The Ducks schedule is highlighted by a February trip to Puerto Rico to play in the Lady Puerto Rico Classic.
Both teams return much of their NCAA tournament nuclei, and look to improve on last season's success. Some predictions for the year:
Will the men make NCAA match play again? Yes
Which players will have the biggest impact on their team's success? Jack Dukeminier and Raphaela Dyer
Where will the women finish at the NCAA championships? Eleventh
Will Takimoto finally break 80 this year? No