EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State men’s golf enters the new calendar year following a strong finish to 2016. Head coach Casey Lubahn has plenty of reasons to be optimistic and sees this year as a time for the Spartans to compete for the Big Ten Championship.
“This is one of the strongest teams we have had in the last 20 years and their expectations are higher than where we are at. I think it is important that while we celebrate the progress that this team is making, we also push ourselves to what is next,” Lubahn said. “No contentment, no relaxation and the good news is that Sam Weatherhead and Charlie Netzel are as hungry as anybody else right now because they only have three more months of doing this.”
The Spartans finished the fall season at the Quail Valley Intercollegiate where they took home the victory. Scoring an 835 (-29) was two shots clear of second place and only had two of the fifteen teams finish within 10 strokes.
The Quail Valley Intercollegiate was not the only event that found Michigan State victorious. The Bearcat Invitational was another victory for the Spartans that saw them take down a Big Ten rival in Ohio State. Of the four individuals to finish the tournament under par, two were Spartans, senior Sam Weatherhead and junior Michael Sharp.
Weatherhead, one of the senior leaders on this year’s roster, led the team in scoring for the fall with a scoring average of 70.26. He also has managed to finish the fall with three top-5 finishes in only five events.
One of the other seniors on the team is Charlie Netzel. A player in which Coach Lubahn believes is a big part in determining the team’s success this year. With many freshmen on this year’s team, Lubahn believes that Netzel must be a leader and help make the freshmen comfortable.
The team has three true freshmen on the roster. Lubahn has put his trust in them, and they showed why in the fall. Kaleb Johnson finished third and only trailed the leaders by one in the Quail Valley Intercollegiate, where he helped lead the team to victory. Lubahn believes these freshmen will be very crucial to the team this spring.
“This is why we recruit guys like this, this is why they came,” Lubahn said. “They have been playing golf their whole lives and we expect them to continue to move forward.”
The Spartans look to get their competitiveness back after the winter starting Friday-Saturday, Feb. 10-11 when they compete in the Big Ten Match Play Championship in Palm Coast, Florida at Hammock Beach Resort.
“The Big Ten Match Play Championship gives us chance to get our competitive legs under us and compete against some teams that are going to be big rivals come late April,” Lubahn said.
Following the Big Ten Match Play Championship, the rest of the spring has the Spartans competing in The Challenge at Champions (Feb. 25), Colleton River Collegiate (March 6-7), CCC Dual at Iowa (March 12), Clemson Challenge at the Cliffs (April 7-9), Boilermaker Invitational (April 15-16), Robert Kepler Intercollegiate (April 22-23) and the Big Ten Championship (28-30).
MSU is also looking to make its second-straight appearance in the NCAA Regionals. Last year was the Spartans first appearance since 2009.