The UConn men’s golf team could hardly be in a better frame of mind as it heads into the tough competition that awaits in the American Athletic Conference Championship on April 23-25 at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.
The Huskies have won their last two events – the VGA/UConn Collegiate Invitational and the Lafayette Collegiate Invitational – and have three championships in their last five competitions, including the Loyola Intercollegiate title on Feb. 27.
UConn is riding a streak of six consecutive Top 3 finishes and has only finished lower than sixth in one event this year. In all, the Huskies had Top 10 finishes in every one of the 10 regular-season events this season, the most successful in Dave Pezzino’s 10 years as head coach.
“It’s great that our team is hitting its stride in April because that’s how we set up our schedule,” Pezzino said. “Going to our league championship is like going to a (NCAA) regional championship, that’s how good the competition is. We have to play some great golf to compete with the other teams in The American and I think we are ready to do that.”
UConn, seeded seventh in the nine-team AAC field, begins play Sunday on the Innisbrook Copperhead Course, playing alongside eighth-seeded Memphis and ninth-seeded Temple. The rest of the field includes top-seeded UCF, second-seeded Houston, third-seeded USF, fourth-seeded SMU, fifth-seeded Cincinnati, and sixth-seeded East Carolina. Teams will be re-paired, based on results, for Round 2 on Monday and Round 3 on Tuesday. USF is the defending league champion.
Leading the Huskies into the conference championships are top scorers, senior co-captain Eric Dietrich (Cheshire, Conn.) and sophomore Jimmy Hervol (Hopkinton, Mass.).
Dietrich has competed in all 10 of UConn’s events this season, averaging 72.5 for 28 rounds. He has six top 10 finishes, including each of the last three events, and finished in a tie for first at the Lafayette Collegiate, before bowing in a sudden-death playoff. He has shot par or better in 12 rounds, including twice shooting a season-low round of 66. In his four-year UConn career, Dietrich has 12 top 10 and 16 top 20 finishes, has shot 35 rounds of par or better, and owns an outstanding per round average of 74.3.
Hervol has also competed in all 10 UConn events and leads the Huskies with a 72.1 average per round. He has six top 10 and seven top 20 finishes, including individual medalist honors at the Doc Gimmler Invitational in Farmingdale, N.Y. He has 14 rounds of par or better, including two season-low rounds of 66.In two seasons as a Husky, Hervol’s per round average is a sparkling 73.9.
Khan has averaged 73.0 per round in 10 events this year with two finishes in the Top 5 and 12 rounds of par or better. Umphrey has a per round average of 73.7 in seven events, with a best finish of fourth and six rounds of par or better. Cooke has competed in eight events, averaging 74.8 per round, twice finishing tied for 11th place, with four top 20 finishes and four rounds of par or better.
“Our whole team has helped prepare these guys for the conference championship,” Pezzino said, “because it was really tough to get into our lineup this year.”