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Men’s golf kicks off second leg of season

The men’s golf team looks to place in the top three in its third consecutive tournament as it continues the second half of the season at the Rio Pinar Intercollegiate in Orlando beginning Monday.

Coach Jim Fee, in his 11th season at USF, is preparing his team for a strong run to the Big East Championship in Louisville, which begins April 22.

“Our expectation is that each tournament we play in, we want to finish in the top three,” Fee said. “Of course, for the conference championship, our goal is to win it. But we know we have some stiff competition in the conference.”

Although there are no designated captains on the team, USF will look to senior Justin Fetcho and junior Tyler Hitchcock to lead the team. Either Fetcho or Hitchcock has placed in the top two in four out of the last five tournaments, with Fetcho winning the Sam Hall Invitational in October.

“We’ve got a small group of nine players, so I don’t think there’s the need for a captain to be in charge,” Fee said. “Besides, these guys really do look out for each other.”

The team will also need freshmen Raj Nahal and Chris Tallman to make big contributions in the second half of the season. Both played in four out of six tournaments in the fall, with each posting a low round of 72.

“I think both of our freshmen have great potential,” Fee said. “In scoring, (Nahal and Tallman) were relatively the same in the tournaments they played in. We are really trying to get them acclimated early into the college golf scene. So, hopefully they will start to produce a little better this season.”

Fee himself is enjoying the opportunity to have a better season.

In his previous 10 seasons, Fee was also the director of golf at The Claw, USF’s golf course. The Athletic Department has allowed Fee to step away from his duties at The Claw to focus more on coaching his team, which could pay big dividends for his players.

“It was certainly a good move,” Fee said. “Now I’m getting to spend 100 percent of my time coaching the team. It’s great.”

Fee, the 2000 Conference USA Coach of the Year, is a Lakeland native and USF alum. He played four seasons on the USF golf team while receiving a degree in business. He is also an All-American from the class of 1985, his senior year.

“This is absolutely a great job for me,” Fee said. “I certainly enjoyed my time here at USF as a student-athlete in the ’80s, and I want to make sure I can give my players an even better experience than I had.”