Feb. 21, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - -
The University of Louisville men's golf team is ready to take the next step. With a veteran group returning for head coach Mark Crabtree, the Cardinals are poised to continue their upward trajectory after a solid fall.
Crabtree doesn't have a senior on the roster, but is bringing back a solid group of players, who saw a lot of competitive action last spring and this past fall. However, Crabtree, who is entering his 16th season as head coach, needs to see improvement and more consistency this spring.
"I want to continue to look for solid improvement from each player," Crabtree said. "We saw that this past fall and that is our most important objective. We need to continue to be coachable to make the necessary changes which will lead to more consistency and improved scoring."
The Cardinals win their own tournament in the fall and also had a second-place finish, but at times showed they weren't ready to compete at the highest level.
"This team is very capable, although a young team in terms of collegiate experience, they have played a lot of golf. I like their commitment and I believe we can build on the success of this past fall. We want to find ourselves at the NCAA Championship Finals in late May."
The Cardinals will open the spring season this weekend at the Hayt Invitational in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. A 14-team field awaits the Cardinals, but Crabtree is focused on what his team needs to do to be successful.
Junior Max Walz is one of the more experienced players for Crabtree, but must show more consistency in his game. He enters the spring after an 11th-place finish in Hawaii in the last event of the fall
"Max was an all-conference performer from last year," Crabtree said. "We will call on his leadership this year. He is a very dedicated and passionate player, who is capable of becoming more consistent player."
Junior Trevor Sluman is another upperclassman, who can help the Cardinals get better if he can continue to add contributions. He played sparingly in the fall, but did post a second-place finish at the Pinetree Intercollegiate and was tied for 12th at Western Kentucky.
"Trevor continues to get better," Crabtree said. "He is a very solid ball striker, which is the best part of his game. He puts a great deal of effort into his short game and putting which will help his scoring numbers. He is a good learner and picks things up quickly."
A player who made tremendous contributions to the team last season was junior Antoine LeSaux . Over the last two seasons, LeSaux posted seven top 10 finishes, including a second-place finish at the Turning Stone Tiger Intercollegiate last year. He led the squad with rounds under par in the fall.
"LeSaux is the emotional leader of the team," Crabtree said. "He has great ambition. He's full of energy and heart to be his very best. Antoine is a fighter in everything he does."
The most consistent player last season was sophomore Robin Sciot-Siegrist who qualified as an individual to the NCAA Regionals. He earned All-BIG EAST accolades with a seventh-place finish at the BIG EAST championships. He also tied for the tournament title at Purdue last spring. This fall, Sciot-Siegrist posted a sixth-place finish at the Brickyard Intercollegiate.
"Robin was an NCAA selection and an all-conference player as a freshman," Crabtree said. "He picked up first collegiate victory last spring at Purdue and kept getting better. He is an excellent ball striker and is a very focused and determined player. He put the lowest scores of the team on the board in the fall."
Sophomore Gus Lundquist is ready to make a bigger contribution after playing just two events in the fall. Lundquist was a solid contributor during his true freshman season. Appearing in eight events, Lundquist was third on the team in stroke average at 74.8, which included a career-best seventh-place finish at the BIG EAST championships.
"Gus was an all-conference player as a freshman," Crabtree said. "He loves the game and is a very hard worker. He made solid contributions in first year and I look for the same in sophomore season. He is capable of shooting low numbers, but needs to continue to prove that on the course."
Crabtree recruited three talented freshmen and that was evident by the way they competed in the fall. Robert Geibel made an immediate impact. He finished sixth at the Cardinal Intercollegiate and closed the fall by winning the Warrior Wave Invitational by shooting a school record 201.
"Robert was our most consistent player day to day," Crabtree said. "He has a wonderful repetitive golf swing and has a great attitude and demeanor for the game. Robert is a gutty performer. He picked up his first collegiate victory in Hawaii this past fall and has all the tools to become an even better player."
J.D. Lehman will look to earn a bigger role this season and has the talent to crack the lineup. He played in four events and showed an ability to compete, but will look to expand his role this spring.
"Lehman is a highly motivated player," Crabtree said. "He owns a very solid golf swing with good fundamentals and will make big impact for us. J.D. is a good learner who picks up necessary changes quickly. He has a strong vision for what he wants to accomplish."
Ben Montgomery is a talented youngster from Christian Academy in Louisville, who appeared in two events last fall. He tied for 47th in his first collegiate event, but Crabtree likes his potential.
"Ben is one of the best young players from the state of Kentucky," Crabtree said. "He is fundamentally sound and owns a lot of confidence. He loves to play the game and is capable of having a big season."
The Cardinals are also capable of a big season as a team and it gets underway on Sunday at the Hayt Invitational in Florida.