Golfers ready to get back into swing of things

Christopher A. Smith / Campus Editor

After five days of school, everybody is just about ready for Christmas break.

It doesn’t take long for the grueling schedule of class and work to wear on a student. For the third year in a row, Washburn’s golfers will take a trip to South Carolina for a tournament that takes place not even a month into the school year.

“It’s always a real nice tournament to play in,” said senior Matt Ewald. “The weather’s nice and there’s some top competition to play against to start off the fall season.”

However, the team doesn’t travel halfway across the country to sit on the beach and hit a few golf balls at the driving range.

“When we’ve played in the Invitational before, we haven’t finished as high as we’d like to,” Ewald said. “Coach has talked to us about getting up there and staying focused so we can get off to a better start and really contend.”

Washburn placed seventh last season out of 16 participants in the Kiawah Island Invitational, and left the east coast scratching their heads. The itching quickly stopped when the Ichabods returned to the Midwest.

In last fall’s five remaining tournaments, the Bods met preseason expectations with five consecutive first place finishes.

“Some of the problem was just the quality of competition there,” junior Matt Lazzo said of the South Carolina field. “At the same time, we know that if we can get our scores down and play better as a team, it’ll be a big help to get the season started off right.”

Placing higher may be beneficial for the Bods’ confidence, but it is equally important for their early season reputation throughout the rest of the country.

Next month’s invitational, which is played Sept. 8-9, combined with participation in several summer tournaments, is crucial in showing what kind of team Washburn has for 2008-09.

“The summer tournaments give you a chance to play against some conference rivals, some teams in our division, but also there’s a lot of Division I guys you go head-to-head with,” Ewald said. “You follow it up by playing the top teams at South Carolina, and those southern schools start to notice Washburn University and our golf program.”

With a mixture of veteran golfers like Ewald and Lazzo, along with a group of new faces who contributed at previous high schools and colleges, the Bods hope a trip to South Carolina will refresh them heading into the rest of the school and the upcoming season.