Zack Peñalva, Sports Editor
It was never going to be easy, and while the final standings weren’t the greatest, the golf team’s recent experience in the Coastal Georgia Winter Invitational was seen as a huge learning and building experience for the team’s members.
“Rusty is probably the best word,” said senior Daniel Patterson about the team as they prepared to head down to Georgia. “That was the biggest thing, knocking some of that rust off.”
With Kentucky and Midwestern weather being what it is, golf isn’t much of an option this time of the year. Taking the trip down to Georgia allowed the Eagles to get back in the groove of playing and competing as they look forward to the back end of their season.
On top of that was the extremely competitive field that the Eagles found themselves in, namely Coastal Georgia University the defending NAIA champions.
It was a challenge that sophomore Matt McCurry believed was in the Eagles best interest. “We’ve never played teams of this caliber before,” said McCurry. “It’s a real good growing aspect playing in [the tournament.]”
The team arrived in Georgia a day early in order to get a feel for the course.
“We got to see every angle and kind of take the surprises away,” said Patterson. Even with that day of warm up, the first day of play still proved to be a bit of a wake up call as the Eagles shot far from their best. Patterson finished the first round seven over and McCurry further back at nine over.
“We knew after the first round we got to do better and we play better than this,” said McCurry. “We didn’t meet that potential the first day.”
By day two, the rust was slowly coming off and the Eagles scoring definitely showed it. Patterson, a four-year member of the team, is more than familiar with the grind of tournament play. As he found his groove, so did the rest of the team. “Realizing you’re down here in Georgia in the middle of February, its 65 degrees, you take a step back and take it all in, take a deep breath and relax,” said Patterson. That Zen nature dropped his score by four as the Eagles finished 15 strokes lower as a team on day two.
After returning home, the Eagles have a whole tournament more under their belt than any of their conference competition, a factor that might play a huge role in the end of the year tournament. “I think we can win [conference]…we did the conference preview tournament in the fall with everyone in our conference and we won that. I think we have a good a shot as anybody to win it.”
It was a sentiment echoed by McCurry who was very encouraged by the team’s performance in Georgia. “If there’s a team to do it, from Asbury from the previous years to this year, it’s definitely this one,” he said. “The team chemistry we have…we can go out there and know and depend on one another.”
The Eagles will play one more tournament, the Cumberland University Invitational in March, as their final tune-up before the KIAC Championships in April.