Updated Sun, Nov 17, 2013 9:22 am
Before the fall season began, Ohio Men’s Golf coach Bob Cooley said he “didn’t expect any miracles” for the fall portion of the season, and that the main focus was to improve with each tournament and to find five guys he can count on for the spring. And with that fall schedule completed, it’s clear Cooley has found three of those five guys.
Cooley played nine different players this fall, but only three of those five played in every tournament: Peyton White, Brad Lucas and Andrew Mlynarski. However, Phil Gieseker earned his way into the main five with his play in the final two tournaments. The team has struggled to find consistency amongst its fourth and fifth starters, and will spend much of the break period figuring out who it will be in the spring.
The Bobcats finished up with one of the best team finishes in the last few seasons, shooting a one-over 289 in the third round at the Cobra-Puma Invitational on Oct. 28, which propelled them to a sixth-place finish in the tournament. The freshman White said he hopes the momentum from that last round carries over to the spring season.
“It’s definitely a good feeling to have that great round,” White said, “where we can definitely build on that, and take things to make us better. The fall is about finding a lineup you take into the spring, and the fact that we had that success shows that we might have found something.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the fall was the instant success of White. The true freshman from Huntersville, N.C., was named Mid-American Conference Men’s Golfer of the Week two times this fall, after his posting individual top-10 finishes at the Wolf Run Invitational and at the Cobra-Puma.
“The only goal I really had coming was to play in every match,” White said. “To be able to travel with the team and have a chance to contribute, it just feels good to help the team and have some good rounds.”
The Bobcats were also boosted by the play of the redshirt senior Gieseker. After a shaky start at the Marshall Invitational in early September, Gieseker found his groove for the last four rounds of the fall, shooting a two-under 70 during the third round at Firestone, and then followed up with two even-par rounds at Cobra-Puma to bring home a 15th-place finish. Gieseker is also second on the team with a 74.22 stroke average.
“I think that first tournament showed a little rust,” Gieseker said. “It had been over a year since I’d last played [competitively], it took me a little bit to get myself back into mental & physical shape for the collegiate game. But I refined my form, thankfully, and got it going again.”
However, as Gieseker has picked up his play, fellow seniors Lucas and Connor Coldwater have not. Coldwater, who had been battling a knee injury early in the fall, only participated in one tournament, and totaled a disappointing 17-over at Wolf Run. Lucas represented the Bobcats in all four tournaments this fall, and carries a stroke average of 77.58, which is seventh best on the team of only 11 players.
The play from the two seniors is something that Cooley would like to see improve in the spring, because he does not want to see a repeat from the previous season.
“Last year was just a bad year,” Cooley said before the season. “The seniors did not play very well at all.”
Another boost for the Bobcats was the surprise play of the junior Mlynarski. At Marshall, Mlynarski competed as an individual and posted his first career top-20 finish with his two-over 215 score in the tournament. He stayed consistent in the final three tournaments and finished the fall third on the team with a 74.58 stroke average.
With the Bobcats now on a break until mid-February, the team will take a short break before hitting the links again after Christmas to begin training for the spring season.
“Golf is a 12-month sport,” White said. “You have to practice all year round, but sometimes you just need a break. During November, I’ll take it a little softer and focus on studies.”
Gieseker said that the team will work out three days a week for the next few weeks, and sometimes playing a little extra on the side.
“We’ll get out for some match play tournaments amongst ourselves,” he said, “mainly for bragging rights.”
The Bobcats return to action Feb. 8, 2014, as they travel to Orlando, Fla., for a match against Bowling Green at Bay Hill Country Club.