The University of South Dakota men’s golf team got off to a strong start last week, tying for first place at the Nicholls State Atchafalaya Open in Patterson, La.
The Coyotes will now look forward to carrying that momentum from this win into the remaining part of their spring season.
“It was a great start for us, especially as we look forward to the Summit League Tournament later this pring,” head coach Nick Hovden said.
The Coyotes have four other tournaments this spring before they head to Lompoc, Calif., in the beginning of May for the Summit League Tournament. To continue to see these kinds of results, Hovden said the Coyotes need to establish depth in their lineup.
“We’ve got our two upperclassmen, Sam Matthew and Jordan Rykal, who are our top two golfers,” Hovden said. “Cody Seal is very close to establishing himself, but then our four and five spots are where we need to improve.”
Hovden said Matthew and Rykal are the strength for the Coyotes. Not only are both good golfers, but they bring leadership that helps the younger guys on the team improve their games, he said.
“They set the tone and pace at each tournament,” Hovden said. “They really help the younger guys improve their mental toughness, and when they’re both playing well our team plays well.”
With Matthew and Rykal locking in the top two spots, and sophomore Cody Seal playing in the third spot, that leaves the other five golfers on the team battling for the final two spots on the traveling team.
“We have four to five guys right around the same talent level,” Hovden said. “It’s going to be gut-check time in order to see who wants to step into one of our remaining spots.”
While golf is a predominantly individual sport, and each member competes to make the competition roster, Hovden believes pushing each other through qualifying and practice will get the group to buy into the team concept of college golf.
For first-year Cole Peterson, this philosophy is something he strongly believes in.
“Individually I want to play well, obviously,” Peterson said. “But it’s really about helping out the team anyway I can.”
Each member of the USD men’s golf team knows that individuals don’t win team events — in golf, the top four scores from each team count toward their overall score for the day.
Matthew said the Coyotes need to have consistency up and down the lineup to see continued success.
“If we can get three or four scores around par when we play, we will do very well,” Matthew said. “That’s our goal — a complete team effort every time we compete.”
At the beginning of the spring season the Coyotes were selected to finish fourth in the pre-season Summit League poll, but the team is setting their sights much higher than that.
“We have already won one tournament, which is great,” Matthew said. “But we want to win our first conference title and wouldn’t mind adding a few more victories to our record as well.”