Jan. 26, 2004
The University of Utah men's golf team heads into its 2003-04 campaign with high hopes of building on last year's success. Last season, the Utes returned to their winning ways as they won two tournaments and had two individual winners. "Coming off a successful year, the team needs to carry over the consistent play and show what we are capable of," notes Head Coach Wayne Fisher.
The Utes wrapped up last season with a fourth-place finish at the conference championships. This year, Utah is ready to improve on that finish and vie for honors in a very tough league, which includes powers UNLV and New Mexico.
Having concluded the 2003 fall season, Utah is already showing signs of success. The Utes posted three second-place finishes and overall finishes in the top five in four of the five tournaments they played in. "With everyone returning from last year, we have put together a very consistent team and have been near the top of every event we've played," adds Fisher. "We have worked hard and without question have made strides to meet our expectations. The bar has been set very high for us this year."
Senior Garrett Clegg, Utah's most consistent player last year is expected to once again be one of the Utes' best this year. The Utah native possesses the ability to win any tournament he plays. Clegg has already won a tournament this fall season, as he finished atop the 2003 Wolf Pack Invitational with an 11-under-par, 205 (69-68-68). "Garrett's game has been fantastic; he worked hard and put in the time to improve. Now he is starting to see the results and has passed all of our expectations," says Fisher.
Clegg also took an individual tournament crown last spring when he won the 2003 Highlander Classic. He capped off a terrific season with a third-place finish at the 2003 Mountain West Conference Championships. The effort earned Clegg all-conference honors, Utah's first since joining the MWC.
Another key player in the picture for Utah is sophomore Casey Fowles. In his debut season, Fowles came up victorious at the 2002 Countrywide Intercollegiate after posting a 208 (70-70-68), eight-under-par. "After taking most of the summer off, Casey is showing signs of returning to the player he was last season. He has the confidence to finish in the top part of every tournament and is becoming a player we can count on," says Fisher. Fowles has continually shown improvement in every tournament this season and completed the fall season with a fifth-place finish at the 2003 Countrywide Intercollegiate.
Two-year team captain Luke Swilor has continued to impress his coach by showing his ability to score low and place high. In his first tournament of the fall season, Swilor shot a six-under, 210 (71-68-71), which was good enough for second place at the 2003 Falcon Invitational. "It has been fun to watch Luke's improvement. He has become a team leader on and off the course," notes Fisher. "His play has improved, and he has become everything that we expected." Look for the senior to finish his career out in winning fashion this spring.
Carl Jensen returns for his senior season. Jensen played well for Utah last year and competed in all but one of the Utes' fall tournaments this year. "Carl had a terrific summer of amateur golf. He has showcased the talent needed to be a competitive college golfer," comments Fisher. "He has been a big part of the team's success and we expect him to continue to get better."
Sophomore Steve Newren participated in all but one tournament this fall. Newren compiled a freshman season that included a fifth-place finish at the 2003 USD Invitational and a 10th-place finish at the 2003 MWC Championships. "Steve has backed-up his freshman success with several top finishes already this year. He has shown the ability to score and play consistently, along with the capability of shooting low scores," adds Fisher.
Nick Summers enters his senior year and adds experience to a very talented team. He played in two tournaments this fall season and will be looked to as a leader by some of the younger players. "Nick is a consistent contributor to the team. His experience will help with the team's success and depth," says Fisher.
Ashdon Woods returns for his junior season, having participated in the 2003 Falcon Invitational already this fall. "Ashdon has worked hard to improve his game, which will pay off as he continues to gain experience," states Fisher. Woods' best finish last year was 10th at the 2003 Thunderbird Invitational.
Also returning for Utah is sophomore Nick Micek, who sat out last season as a redshirt. Micek is a consistent player who will strengthen the Utes' depth. He participated in two tournaments during the fall. "Nick is coming off a redshirt year and had some success through the summer amateur tournaments. His hard work is paying off and he should step in to play a big part on this team," says Fisher.
Utah's lone newcomer is freshman Chace Bickmore, who arrives from Hillcrest High School in Salt Lake City. "We are excited to have a player of Chace's ability. As he gains experience, he has the chance to become an important element to this team," says Fisher.
With the second half of the season looming, Utah looks to establish itself as a top contender and continue to build a top tier program. The Utes will be tested early as they begin the spring season at the John Burns Intercollegiate Feb.18-20. The tournament will be an early indicator of how good the team really is, with other teams from both the conference and region participating.
The seven-tournament schedule will conclude with the 2004 MWC Championships April 29-May 1. "This team is capable of winning and has continued to improve both its scores and finishes," relates Fisher. "We are excited to resume play and expect to win a couple of tournaments this spring."
The team has become a threat to win any tournament it participates in and now has a chance to realize its potential. "We're coming off a successful year and the team has responded well by carrying over the consistent play," says Fisher. "We haven't played up to our potential yet, but this team is capable of being great. It will be exciting to see how we do the rest of the season."