College golf fans rejoice, as the Long Beach State men’s golf team gets the season underway at the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate on Monday and Tuesday in Pullman, Washington. The 49ers will look to improve on their fourth place finish in the Big West last season.
“I think we have a good shot at the Big West title this year,” junior Joe Fryer said. “There is a lot of good competitors on this team, and we have been pushing each other everyday on the course.”
Fryer is one of four returning players to the LBSU golf team, joining a mixture of freshman and transfers. Perhaps the biggest newcomer to the program is first year head coach Michael Wilson.
“I feel really fortunate to be brought in to coach this team, because these are some really good guys,” Wilson said. “They have great attitudes, they play hard and I know we’re all going to get along.”
Wilson was hired by Athletic Director Andy Fee in July, after three years as an assistant coach at the University of Washington. Now 33, his approach to coaching the team includes providing more competition during practice and making the qualifying tournaments a more challenging and fun environment.
“I know a lot of players that played for him at University of Washington and they had only great things to say about him and they were right,” Fryer said.
Fryer, a Seattle native, has played Palouse Ridge Golf Course a few times in his career and claims to have a leg up on the rest of the field after playing so much golf in the state.
“I’ve played there a handful of times which is very important, I know how to approach it strategically and should have an advantage out there,” Fryer said.
Along with Fryer, junior Andres Gonzalez is another returner who brings national tournament experience to the team. Last season, he qualified for the NCAA regional as an individual, and tied for 46th at the Stanford Golf Course last May.
“I’m motivated to make it back this year,” Gonzalez said. “The field was tough but I know what it takes to get my game ready for that this year.”
Sophomore Hunter Reed and junior Patrick Pockels round out the list of players returning for LBSU. The rest of the team includes four newcomers who are eager to make an impact.
“Two new guys have really stepped up, and that’s [freshman] Connor [Nelson] and [junior] Niels [Andersen],” Gonzalez said. “They have made the team a lot better, so I’m pretty excited.”
Andersen, a junior transfer from Santa Barbara City College, is one of the five players who qualified for this weeks tournament in Washington after a very strong week of play.
“It’s a good field that were matching up against but I think if we play our game and manage the course well we have a chance to win this one,” Fryer said.
LBSU will tee it up at Palouse Ridge Golf Course in Pullman, Washington in the opening round on Monday with second round action following Tuesday.
Live scoring can be followed on golfstat.com and by following @Luuuukersports on Twitter.