UConn Athletic Communications
Feb. 22, 2018
STORRS, Conn. --- The members of the UConn men’s golf team made sure their 16-week break between college tournaments was put to good use. The Huskies spent time in warmer climates, they spent time at amateur events, they spent time driving, chipping and putting, and they spent time in the weight room and yoga classes.
Wait … what? The weight room? This isn’t the football team. Yoga classes? This isn’t a group of soccer moms.
Nope, but it’s how the UConn golf team prepares for its spring season.
“It’s not crazy lifting to gain size, necessarily,” explained golf coach Dave Pezzino. “It’s mobility, stability, and flexibility stuff two days a week, it’s yoga on Wednesdays and then normal weights two days a week. That’s how (strength) Coach (Amanda) Kimball has it set up.
“I thought it was important because, while I thought our fitness was very high last year, I felt we could have done a better job finishing rounds off – especially going 36 holes. When you look at our schedule, there are times when we are going to go 36 and 18 (holes). It’s important that the guys have enough stamina and mental clarity for 36 holes and sometimes those 36 holes are 8½ to 9 hours. I don’t know of another sport you play that you have to ask somebody to focus for 8½ to 9 hours. I want to make sure that our guys can keep it together mentally, because I think that’s where college golfers make mistakes -- every kid in college hits it wicked far and they can all chip and putt it pretty well, it’s the guys who make the right decisions who are most successful and it’s my job to make sure that our guys are in the right frame of mind to be able to play well.”
And the Huskies have been playing well for quite a while. After the outstanding 2016-17 season, which included eight Top Five finishes and three tournament victories, UConn had three Top Five finishes and a victory in five tournaments last fall. The Huskies’ last collegiate competition was on Nov. 3-5 at the Ka’anapali Classic in Maui, Hawaii.
“Some of the guys play in ranked amateur events over break, but a lot of our guys like to focus on fundamentals and fitness, what got them to be really good at what they do,” Pezzino said. “It’s a nice time to decompress – put the clubs away and work on their bodies, take some time to clear their minds. I would say, all of them find their way to Florida or the South at some point over the break to get some reps in.
“But it’s about time we go play golf against somebody else. This has been fun, doing our indoor work and taking our training trips, but it’s time we see guys carrying other college golf bags.“
That will happen this weekend as the spring portion of the 2017-18 campaign begins with the Loyola Intercollegiate at Palm Valley Golf Course in Goodyear, Ariz.
“The Arizona tournament is a lot of fun, and the course is so well run,” Pezzino said. “It’s a good opportunity for all of us teams to get together at a really fun golf course. It’s a great way to start the spring.”
Tournaments in Ft. Lauderdale, San Diego, Boca Raton (Fla.), Hellertown (Pa.), and Sunset, S.C., follow before the American Athletic Conference Championship on April 22-24 in Palm Harbor, Fla.
“The schedule we’ve put together really pushes the guys,” Pezzino said. “It checks a lot of boxes for national schedule, strength of schedule, challenging course layouts … this schedule really allows us to peak for postseason golf. You want the fall semester to see who you’ve got of the team. In the spring, you want to make sure you’re angling to peak at conference and beyond. You don’t want the guys peaking in mid-April and be all winded.”
Junior co-captain Jimmy Hervol (Hopkinton, Mass.) was UConn’s top scorer after the five fall tournaments, averaging 71.4 strokes per round and his tie for third place at the Connecticut Cup was the top individual finish of the fall season. Among the other regulars, redshirt sophomore Drake Hull (Rutland, Vt.) is averaging 72.5, junior Nick Harrington (Chaplin, Conn.) is at 72.6, junior Nabeel Khan (Westerville, Ohio) is at 72.7, and freshman Rodrigo Sanchez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) is at 72.8.
“We arguably play in one of the top golf conferences in the country top to bottom,” Pezzino said. “We have a lot of teams that make it to postseason play, and that’s our focus -- to be able to play beyond our conference championship and have it matter.”
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