Rodrigo Ugalde, Staff Writer
Both Men’s and Women’s Wingate golf teams are getting ready to face the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) tournament, both with the mindset of getting the big prize: win the tourney.
While both teams had uneven performance at the beginning of the season finishing 14th in their starting competitions of 54 holes each, individual and team rankings have improved. The men’s team hit 894 at the Cougar Invitations, second highest of the season for them (only behind their performance at the Regional Preview held in Orlando). The women’s team did not start, as they would have expected, in fact, they had their worst performance of the season at the Ross Resorts Invitational.
However, men’s and women’s agree there has been a significant improvement since then. “We can see the improvement from the beginning of the season until now. I think we are working together as a team, as a real team,” senior Henrique Pombo said. “This being my last season I know I can do better at this level, but hopefully, I can pick it up for theses last two tournaments before the SAC tourney,” Pombo added.
Women’s golf coach, Erin Thorne thinks the progressive improvement relates to the consistency that the younger players have brought to the team. “Our three freshmen have found their niche in the team, which was just a matter of time. This spring has been a little more consistent and convincing in placing high in the tournament fields because of this.”
Cristina Cassanella, freshmen from Barcelona, Spain, who “proved [she] that can keep her scores in the mid-seventies” as her coach explained, she is one of the players in charge of this lift in performance, despite her little experience at the collegiate level.
“We had some bad tournaments during this fall that left us with no chances of making it to regionals this year, but the spring has been going well and out scores have improved a lot,” Cassanella said, while looking forward to the last chance they got later on April (10-12) at the SAC tourney. “We have been working very hard this month and getting some individual victories during spring tournaments, so we really expect to finish with strong scores.”
Cassanella’s best single performance came at the Smokey Mountain Intercollegiate Invitational earlier in the season with a 72 on the second day of the competition. Being part of the quad on every single tournament, Cassanella admits there is still plenty of room for improvement and “a lot to earn and work on.”
Tyler Stone, senior member of the men’s golf team, who earned the SAC freshmen of the year in 2013 explains the season this way. “I feel like we just weren’t playing as we did in practice during the first tournaments, and when we played relaxed like in the Donald Ross Intercollegiate, we were such a different team.”
Stone who had an average of 74.6 strokes per round last year and has his best performance at the Lander Bearcat Classic, winning the event with 212. He is eager to keep this run going. “We have two tournaments prior to the SAC tournament so I have been trying to tell the boys to relax and play simple, as that worked for me. When you look back at how quickly your college career goes by, you really want to pass down the experience.”
Edited by Brea Childs