Men's Golf Set to Tee Off on New Season
by Justin Anderson
Fort Myers, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University men’s golf team opens its season when it travels to their first tournament of the spring season, the Matlock Invitational at Florida Southern in Lakeland, Fla.
The Matlock Invitational starts the Eagles season off with a bang! Several of the teams playing are ranked in the top-20 in the nation, including #14 Rollins, #4 West Florida, and #2 Florida Southern, the tournament’s host. The richness of competition in this tournament is indicative of the Eagles regional opponents this year.
The Eagles “home” tournament is the Lexus Naples Invitational at the Hammock Bay Golf Club in Naples, Fla., at the end of February. Many elite teams have been invited, some of which included Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Florida State, and defending champions St. Mary’s College.
Head Coach Jim Suttie is entering his sixth season as head coach of the Eagles, and is joined by Assistant Coach J.P. Meyer, who is entering his fifth season with the team. Every tournament the Eagles play this year is against stiff regional competition, except the El Diablo Invitational against Marshall, which is being held in mid March.
“The schedule looks awesome,” said Meyer. “If we can pay attention to our mechanics and play solid golf, we should do well this season.”
2006 FGCU Men’s Golf Outlook
The Eagles are only returning one of their top five players from last season. Senior Drew Pierson (Lockport, Ill) is the team’s top player and its leader. Last year, Pierson finished a respectable 63rd in the Southeastern Intercollegiate Tournament. Junior Alister Munro (Deventer, Holland) would be joining Pierson as one of the top players on the team, but wrist surgery has sidelined Munro for the entire season. Meyer expects sophomore David Blue (Edina, Minn.), who joins the team as a transfer from the University of Minnesota, to make a solid impact and bring some much needed experience to this year’s young team.
This year’s team is carrying an astounding seven freshman. This team may be youthful, but they are certainly headed in the right direction. Freshman Kyle Henderson (Clermont, Fla.) was ranked #70 among the Junior Nationals last year. This past fall, Henderson showed his game is very consistent with a tournament average of 74. Freshman Kyle Hammond (Windermere, Fla.) and Chris Covelli (Amherst, NY) are two players who have made great strides from the fall. Freshman Curtis Smither (Sarasota, Fla.) and Ryan Coll (Ravenna, OH) are two young players who have worked very hard on improving their mechanics. Freshman Jimmy Ellis (McMurray, PA) is an athletic player who mostly relied on his strength while playing the ball.
The Eagles will be without sophomore Brian Friedrichs (Boca Raton, Fla.) and freshman Michael Hart (London, England) this season, due to transfer and eligibility issues.
Despite being ranked #47 and having such an inexperienced team, the Eagles are looking to have a productive season.
“I am confident that we can put ourselves in the position to win” said Meyer.