Golfers return all but one to Regional Championship group

Line of sight John Robbins lines up a putt. He placed in the top ten at the 2007 National Tournament; the team placed 5th at the 2007 National Tournament.

When a team breaks the record for best finish in school history, weaknesses are difficult to find.

But the Washburn golfers are quick to point out last season’s shortcomings when talking about their fifth place performance in the 2007 National Tournament. Their self-criticism could be the key to an even higher finish in the 2007-08 season.

In last year’s tournaments, the team sometimes built up a comfortable lead early, only to let the competition close the gap on the following days. Teams rarely came back strong enough to top Washburn’s overall score, and the Ichabods won their final five tournaments entering nationals, but the tendency to relax after dominating early in tournaments may be the reason the team was unable to finish in the top three nationally.

“Some tournaments we’d get a big lead and know if we just played decent the next day we’d still win,” said junior Matt Ewald. “Coach [Doug Hamilton] didn’t like that attitude. He wanted us to play like we did before and just absolutely pound teams to show that we’re better than all our conference teams and that when we’re playing good you can’t touch us.”

This year, the team plans on finishing off regular season opponents rather than becoming content and letting them fight their way back up the leader board. Showing intensity throughout the early season tournaments against inferior competition would help the team make comebacks of their own when facing the nation’s top golf schools.

“When we’ve got a big lead in a tournament, we need to keep it going and don’t let back and show them what we can do when we play to our potential,” said Ewald.

All but one player returns for the defending MIAA and Central Regional champions. This season’s incoming players will join together with Washburn’s talented returnees to form one of the best teams in the nation.

“It’s the best team that Washburn’s ever had by far top to bottom,” said senior Ryan Deutsch. “I think we can easily compete talent wise with any of the teams in the country.”

The golfers’ mindset entering this season could be the perfect remedy for the little struggles the team had last year. Rather than looking back at their previous accomplishments, the team is focused on improving what has become one of the country’s strongest golf programs.

“Our goal this year is to win a national championship,” said Ewald. “We’ve got enough talent that if we go out and play like we’re supposed to, there’s no reason we can’t play with the best teams in the country.”