Red and White prepare for Firestone Invitational
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 22:10
Just three tournaments into the season, and the Miami University men’s golf team has already seen some ups and downs, finishing fourth, 10th and seventh, respectively. Heading to Akron, Ohio for the Firestone Invitational, second-year Head Coach Zac Zedrick is seeking a better performance from his players, especially after the Red and White finished 13th out of 17 teams in this tournament last year.
“I want the guys to play aggressively, but smart,” Zedrick said. “They need to do a better job of playing aggressive golf with small margins for error.”
Since his players are good putters, he has confidence they can perform better in Akron if they can place the ball within 20 feet of the hole.
According to Zedrick, a major part of performing better is the ability to handle the high levels of emotion and the tournaments’ extreme pressure. Zedrick is hoping players can bridge this gap through practice.
One technique to bridge this gap is implementing a qualifying system. For each tournament, players must compete against each other to grab one of the five spots. Freshman Jack Sparling received an exemption from qualifying this week due to a strong finish last tournament.
Sparling made his collegiate debut at the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate tournament hosted by Illinois State University. He posted the team’s best score and tied for 15th overall at 10-over par. He was the only golfer on the team to finish in the top 30.
“I played great,” Sparling said. “I tried to come in with no expectations … and just do what I can.”
One of four freshmen for the RedHawks, Sparling said the college level of play is different due to the competition.
“We’re always pushing each other to be better,” Sparling said. “After the tournament, I hope everyone can say they played really well … and smart.”
Despite a successful first tournament, Sparling is approaching Firestone with the same mindset: have no expectations and play smart.
His attitude reflects Zedrick’s, who came into the season without many expectations.
“I try not to place expectations on people because it can limit them,” Zedrick said. “I’m taking a long-term approach. We have some work to do before we get where we want to as a program. I just want people ready to compete.”
The ’Hawks play their first 36 holes Oct. 8 and the final 18 the following day.