Will Jones – As the spring semester begins to wind down, the Davidson Men’s Golf team is starting to heat up as they put together their final preparations for the A10 Conference Championships. The tournament has been held for the last two years at the Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Florida. After a slow start to the year which saw many tough and disappointing finishes in the fall classics, the team heads to Irish Creek Golf Club in Kannapolis this weekend for their home invitational, co-hosted by UNC Charlotte, to determine who they will send to the Championships at the end of the month. The ‘Cats are hoping to improve on their 10th place finish from last year’s conference invitational.
According to team member Spencer Papciak ‘18, the team tried to change things up a little entering the fall season in response to their underwhelming finish the prior spring. “We came in trying to do a few things differently and still didn’t have a great fall,” Papciak summarized. Indeed, the team did face a few rough outings in October, coming in 3rd to last at the NC State Fall Invite and a distant last against an albeit stacked field at the Bridgestone Collegiate around Halloween. “This spring has sort of been about reevaluating and trying to figure out what we weren’t doing right,” according to Papciak, “We’ve really started to see it pay off in the last couple of weeks.”
At the Wexford Plantation Collegiate in late February, the ‘Cats came roaring to life, as sophomore Jack Lang paced the team to a T-11th place finish with his 2-over-par performance that earned him 5th place individual honors. The team followed with an 18th place finish at the Auburn Tiger Invitational and 11th place finish at the UNC Wilmington Seahawk Invite, which saw Lang card his 3rd top-20 finish of the spring season. Lang, who earned the Rookie of the Year Award last year with his 5th place finish at Conference, appears poised to be a contender for the top medalist honors this year.
Behind Lang, the team has seen some breakout performances from its younger members. The freshman class of Will Simmons and Michael Freeman has seen some success already, according to Papciak. “Will’s unfortunately been out this half of the season with mono, but Michael has played in the lineup in pretty much every tournament this year and he’s done really well for a freshman,” Papciak concluded, “Sophomores Hoke Carlton and Kevin Carlock have also made a big jump in their play since last year.”
Junior Nathan Tenpas made his collegiate debut at the UNCW invite this past month after a two-year battle with injury. With the tournament this weekend determining the championship lineup, it will be an intense battle to see who makes the final lineup after 54 holes of play on the long and daunting Irish Creek course that has played host to Qualifying School Tournaments for the PGA.
As for Conference, the ‘Cats plan is simple: put themselves in striking distance for the final round. “If we can be in the mix on that final back 9, I think we might have a shot,” added Papciak. Last year’s defending champs VCU and runner- up Richmond are once again in hot contention for the title this year, but potentially have a new contender to face in the Wildcats. Our men came within striking distance of the powerful Richmond and Rhode Island teams at the Seahawk Invitational, only 5 strokes back going into the final round. Who knows? Can Davidson’s finest golfers stump the conference powerhouses and bring home the school’s first A10 Title? Time will tell.
Golf competes next at the Irish Creek Collegiate in Kannapolis N.C. The Atlantic 10 Men’s Golf Championship is on April 29th-30th in Orlando, FL.