Written by Jake Johnson, Contributor
VSU golf will tee off on the 2017 portion of their 2016-2017 campaign after a scorching hot start in 2016 on Feb. 13 and 14 in The Matlock. The team finished in the top five in its first three tournaments, including a win at the UIS Island Getaway in Rio Mar, Puerto Rico.
Head Coach Jared Purvis said it will be business as usual for the team as they travel to Lakeland, Florida, for the tournament.
“I’m always hoping that we play well, but I’ve learned after several years not to really learn to expect anything or try to predict an awesome tournament,” Purvis said. “If we go out and play the way we’re supposed to play then we’ll be in contention.”
The Blazers finished 16th in the final fall Bushnell Golfweek Divison II Coaches Poll. VSU will be joined in The Matlock by two of their Gulf South Conference rivals including top ranked West Florida and eighth ranked North Alabama.
Although VSU won its last tournament, it took place in October. Purvis said he worries about the players being a little rusty going into The Matlock because it will be the players’ first tournament in four months.
“I’m always worried about rust,” Purvis said. “Whenever you take three months off from tournament play, that’s always a concern, but we’ve been playing qualifying rounds and competitive type stuff for the last two weeks so hopefully they will have their game sharp come Monday.”
Davis Roche has been a major key to the Blazers success in the past couple of years and has emerged as a leader in the 2016-2017 season. He made headlines when he posted a round of 58 in Jacksonville a couple months ago, but Roche said he is focused on the tournaments ahead. He said getting back into tournament play will be the team’s biggest challenge.
“This will be my third trip to Lakeland so I feel pretty comfortable there,” Roche said. “I hope that helps [get back into the swing of tournament play]. We as a team played six rounds of competitive golf against one another to get into the tournament feel to prepare for our upcoming match.”
Roche said he and the rest of the team will try to focus on hitting great shots during the tournament and not worry about scoring until the end of the match.
“I want to go out there and just take care of my role for the team,” Roche said. “Playing my own game and not worrying about results until the round is over helps me stay focused. If I relax and play my game, I’ll get the best outcome in the end.”
VSU will look to Roche as well as former GSC Freshman of the Month, Jordan Long and junior Olaf Zandveld to lead the team to a low score next week. Zandveld has finished eighth overall or better in the team’s three tournaments it’s played so far this season.
The Matlock will begin at 8 a.m. on Feb. 13 and will finish after the final round on the 14th.