On the heels of their runner-up performance at the Bearcat Invitational, the Huskies are looking to carry that momentum to the scenic Monterey Peninsula for the 15-team event held just off the Pacific Ocean at the Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses.
Cal Poly, Florida Gulf Coast, Loyola Marymount, Loyola-Maryland, Marquette, Miami of Ohio, Nevada, Notre Dame, Pacific, San Francisco, Santa Clara, St. Mary’s, UC-Irvine and UC-Santa Barbara join NIU in the field.
“I am hoping to improve upon the consistency with which we score each round,” said Northern Illinois men’s golf coach Tom Porten. “I thought it was a good sign at Cincy when we got better each round, including the even-par 288 to finish.
“We also have a chance to see some schools we do not normally compete with out west and that will add to the experience.”
Senior Jeff Dick (Sherman, Texas/Sherman) is aiming to end his 2010 with an exclamation point after capturing his second individual title of the year at the Bearcat Invitational. The Texan deservedly earned Mid-American Conference Golfer of the Week honors with the performance. A few more low rounds this week would likely move Dick from 12th into the conference’s top ten in scoring average.
Freshman Shawn Foley (Pewaukee, Wis./Waukesha North) will tee off in the second position for the Huskies on Monday morning. The freshman has showed sparks of brilliance this year, earning two top-20 finishes. Foley will look to finish his first season of action on a high note on the sunny shores of California.
Senior Andrew Frame (Manteno, Ill./Manteno), sophomore Matt Gorman (Waunakee, Wis./Waunakee), and senior Tim Kay (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) round out NIU’s final lineup of the year. Frame and Kay will be putting finishing touches on solid comeback campaigns, while Gorman makes his second fall appearance.
Naturally, there is some extra weight added to this season-ending event, as it will be the players’ last competitive statement to Coach Porten before heading into the winter. A good or bad round in Seaside, Calif., can leave a lasting impression heading into the spring championship season.
“Every event helps shape the roster for the next tournament,” said Porten. “But with the long break between seasons this has special significance, and they are all aware of it.”
Unlike most tournaments the Huskies compete in, the St. Mary’s Invitational is played on two courses.
Rounds one and three will be played at Bayonet Golf Club, while Black Horse will host round two. Both courses were built in the mid-20th century, have been played by golf greats, and have been sites for the PGA Tour’s Qualifying School. Aside from their difficulty (Bayonet and Black Horse are rated 74.8 and 73.7, respectively), the clubs will offer the Huskies soul-captivating views of both land and sea.
“It’s our first travel west and my second, so we can expect some wind off the ocean as well as some varying slopes,” said Porten. “I am told both courses are hilly and fairly tight off the tee, so we will be looking to use our three woods and hybrids quite a bit to make sure we avoid the Cypress trees that guard the fairways. The facility has hosted Nationwide Tour events in the past and is supposed to be in terrific shape, so we are excited to see what we can do out there.”