STORRS, Conn. --- After a schedule break of more than four months, the UConn men’s golf team begins the spring portion of its 2016-17 schedule this weekend, traveling to Goodyear, Ariz., to compete in the Loyola Intercollegiate, hosted by Loyola-Maryland, on Feb. 25-27.
The Loyola Intercollegiate, held at the Palm Valley Golf Course, kicks off a six-event spring schedule for the Huskies, culminating with the American Athletic Conference Championship in Florida on April 23-25.
“The opening event in Arizona is a great place for us to start the spring,” said 10-year UConn coach Dave Pezzino. “The Palm Valley course is challenging and the field is as strong as ever.”
The UConn golfers, led by senior co-captains Eric Dietrich (Cheshire, Conn.) and Tyler Cooke (Warwick, R.I.), may have been on a break from the college schedule since their last competition on Oct. 11, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t working on their games. The long semester break allowed plenty of time for practice.
“As usual, the guys used the off-season as an ‘on’ season,” Pezzino said. “Most of them went south and got in some solid work, either competing or putting in long days of practice. They are ready to get back into collegiate competition.”
Following this weekend’s event, the Huskies will head for Bluffton, S.C., to compete in the Colleton River Collegiate on March 6-7, at Colleton River Plantation, hosted by Michigan State University. UConn then moves on to Lake Worth, Fla., for the FAU Slomin Autism Championship, hosted by Florida Atlantic University, at The Fountains Country Club on March 24-26. The Huskies next will compete for the first time in Lafayette College’s Lafayette Collegiate Invitational on April 2-3 at Silver Creek Country Club in Hellertown, Pa.
On April 14-15, UConn will be the host school for the Veteran Golfers Association/UConn Collegiate Invitational, which will be held at the Mohegan Sun Golf Club in Baltic, Conn. It is a unique tournament, which honors U.S. Military personnel and allows a team of military veterans to compete in the tournament along with the student-athletes from college teams, giving both exposure to a different perspective on life.
That tournament also serves as a perfect tune-up for the American Athletic Conference Championship on April 23-25, held at the Innisbrook Golf Resort, Copperhead Course, in Palm Harbor, Fla.
“This spring will once again be challenging as we play a national schedule that will take us from Arizona to Florida, competing against some of the best programs in the country,” Pezzino said. “I am excited to test our lineup against that type of high-level competition.”
The Huskies posted Top 10 finishes in all five of the tournaments during their fall schedule, and earned a Top 5 finish in three of them, including a second place in the fall finale on Oct. 10-11 at The Connecticut Cup. Besides the UConn co-captains, the roster competing for spots in the events includes junior Sasha Wortelboer (Geneva, Switzerland), sophomores Jimmy Hervol (Hopkinton, Mass.), Nabeel Khan (Westerville, Ohio), Nick Harrington (Chaplin, Conn.), and Blake Kelley (Manchester, Conn.), redshirt freshman Zach Iannone (Handem, Conn.), and freshmen Chandler Morris (Hobe Sound, Fla.), Tim Umphrey (Northborough, Mass.) and Noah Moss (Rockville, Md.).
“Our guys are tired of competing against guys carrying the same bag,” Pezzino said. “They are looking to get out and compete against other schools.”