Men's Golf Opens Fall Season At Itani Quality Homes Collegiate
SPOKANE, Wash. - The Gonzaga University men's golf team opens its top-notch 2012-13 schedule Monday at the fourth-annual Itani Quality Homes Collegiate hosted by Washington State University in Pullman, Wash.
The tournament will take place at WSU's home course, Palouse Ridge Golf Club which features a layout of 7,308 yards with a par-72 configuration. The format calls for 36 holes of play Monday with a start of 7:30 a.m. and the final 18 holes on Tuesday, also at 7:30 a.m.
There are 11 schools competing in the field. In addition to Gonzaga and host Washington State, the University of Arizona, Boise State University, University of British Columbia, Cal State Fullerton, the University of Idaho, Sacramento State University, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University and Utah Valley University are participating. San Jose State is the reigning champion.
"We definitely want to compete for the title in our first event, but all we can do is play, leaving everything we have on the course, and see where it puts us going into the final day," explained Bulldog head coach Robert Gray, who is in his 14th year. "With the exception of a team lighting it up, I believe we can be in the hunt to win the final day if we take it one shot at a time and make the right decisions."
Gray has a young but experienced-laden team that is ready to battle at the Itani Quality Homes Collegiate.
"We are still young, with four of six players being underclassmen," Gray said. "However, last year was a big learning year for our current sophomores. They all played at least eight of 10 events and we'll be bringing individuals to our first two events this fall."
Returning to the squad in 2012-13 are senior Travis Johnsen, junior Peter Gullickson, and sophomores Brendan Connolly, James Fahy and Erik Krzyzanowski. The lone newcomer to the Bulldogs is freshman Sean Walsh.
"All of the guys have the ability to have a break out year," stated Gray of his talented group of student-athletes. "It's really just a matter of who can overcome their own demons first; whether that's mentally or a certain area of the physical game. I'm looking forward to see who's ready to take it to the next level."
Following the season opener, the Zags will be at the Kikkor Husky Invitational the following week hosted by the University of Washington. The Bulldogs then head to the Mark Simpson Invitational Sept. 24-25, followed by the Fighting Irish Invitational Oct. 7-9 and the Bill Cullum Invitational Oct. 22-23.
More Thoughts By Gonzaga Head Coach Robert Gray
On Travis Johnsen: "Travis is our lone senior and team captain. With three years under his belt and over 25 tournaments of experience, he's seen just about everything. He's very good at getting the most out of his game each day, especially the days when he's not on top of his game. That's huge when it comes to team scoring. He'll be instrumental in leading the team this year."
On Peter Gullickson: "Peter is the only junior on the team. He has a lot of potential to be a great player. We're definitely expecting a lot from him this year after two years of playing in every event but one. Now is the time for him to take it to another level, including the mental side. If he can keep his emotions in check on bad days then he'll give himself and the team the chance to accomplish some great things."
On Brendan Connolly: "Brendan is one of three sophomores. He started to find his physical and mental game toward the end of last season. He has the ability to post low scores and when we're using four or five scorers per round, just one round under par can save a team score. He still has much to learn but he'll tell you he learned a lot last season. He's very good at remembering what he learned so that will play big dividends for him this year."
On James Fahy: "James is another sophomore. He could be classified as our 'steady' guy. Typically he doesn't shoot real high and doesn't go super low. He doesn't miss the ball left or right much so his focus needs to be on his short game, as that's where he's going to lose shots on days when he doesn't hit many greens."
Erik Krzyzanowski: "The last of our three sophomores, Erik has a great ability to scramble. Ball striking will need to be his biggest focus but not at the expense of working on his short game. He has the ability to post low scores but needs to find more consistency round to round this season."
On Sean Walsh: "Our lone freshman, Sean is a talented player. He has a great trajectory on his irons and keeps a pretty cool head out there. He is a freshman and will make freshman mistakes but his mental strength will take him a long way this season. He's already shown that ability in qualifying this past weekend on a tough course at Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton. He's going to be a big help this season and I won't be surprised to see him playing in the No. 1 or No. 2 slot often."
On the expectations he has for this fall: "Our goals for the fall are to play consistent golf. Last year we had issues with consistency but finally put it together at the West Coast Conference Championship. We've got to take it one shot at a time and take what the course gives us. We've got another strong schedule and I'm looking forward to competing against some of the top teams in the country. I know the team is, as well, and we can play with them but only if each player works hard on their weaknesses before each event, stays level headed during the event and takes it one shot at a time."