Golf team fails to capitalize on home-course advantage

Defending the home course comes with the pressure to win and play exceptionally. Added pressure can cause athletes to perform under par and far from their goals.

This proved to be the case this weekend as the men’s golf team finished 14th in the Ron Smith USF Invitational at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club, a 17-team tournament. USF finished with a final score of 913 after shooting a final round of 299 on Sunday, the team’s best of the weekend. Middle Tennessee State won the tournament, posting a score of 869. Coach Jim Fee was unsatisfied with USF’s play over the weekend.

“We finished in 14th place. That pretty much says it all. It’s pretty pitiful,” Fee said. “I’m very disappointed, and all the players are pretty disappointed, too.”

Fee believes his players are putting too much pressure on themselves to play well after posting good numbers last semester. The team finished in the top 5 in four of its six tournaments in the fall.

“I think they need to take some pressure off themselves. Certainly, at our home event there’s a lot of pressure to win and do well,” Fee said. “They don’t need that excess pressure, especially when the conditions are difficult.”

Weather was a factor for the Bulls, as they had to play nine holes in a complete downpour on Saturday. Fee understands cold rain is far from the condition a golfer wishes for, but said it is no excuse for poor play.

“The rain certainly affected our scores, but there were other teams that played in it as well. We just needed to do better,” Fee said.

Justin Fetcho finished in 32nd place with a final score of 225. Jason Elliot and Kevin Tilbury each finished with a score of 236, and Luis Carguilo shot a 249. Freshman Raj Nahal played well, finishing with a 230. However, individual scores do not count for the team.

Tyler Hitchcock was a bright spot for the Bulls, as he shot one under par in the final round to finish with a score of 218, placing him in the top 10. Hitchcock knows morale is low after such a poor outing at home, but also feels the team can still attain its goal of winning the Big East Conference Championship.

“Finishing 14th out of the 17 teams that were there is kind of a blow to the gut, but it’s also a wakeup call,” Hitchcock said. “We have to start practicing harder and playing better. This tournament may have been our home tournament, but it doesn’t have anything to do with our postseason play.”

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