Cobra Golfers work towards strong finish to spring season
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 11:05
The spring season for Parkland Cobras golf didn’t start exactly the way they wanted it to. Once the fall season ended in October, the team had five full months between tournaments before the John A. Logan Invitational of the spring season rolled around March 25-26.
The five month absence from tournament golf, combined with the advantage Logan golfers enjoyed while playing on their home course at Kokopelli in Marion, left Parkland with a fifth place finish.
“When we play guys on their courses, scores are going to be more skewed towards them based on the fact they play that course all the time,” Head Coach Zach McNabney said about the opening tournament.
The Cobras fired a 625 team total for the two day event, 45 strokes off the winners from John A. Logan. Freshman David Keenan from Salt Fork led the way for Parkland with a two-day total of 150.
McNabney admits that the long layoff played a role in not seeing the results he and the Cobras hoped for coming into the spring.
“When you don’t play in December, January and February, your short game is going to struggle, your putting is going to struggle,” he said.
The next week at the Webster Gorlock Invite in St. Louis, the Cobras were able to find a little more consistency, ending with a third place finish out of 14 teams. Keenan, sophomore Lewis Martin, freshmen Dan Patkunas and David Hermes all fired fewer than 160 for their two-day totals.
The week prior, just two Cobras broke the 160 mark. Keenan finished in second alone with 144 while Lewis Martin provided a solid 150 total.
Unfortunately, that momentum did not carry over for Parkland as they finished fourth in a disappointing M-WAC conference meet in Pekin. After being two shots off the pace through the first round, they were unable to make up ground on a surging Illinois Central College and wound up fourth.
The 2012 conference tournament ended Parkland’s three-year run as conference champs. “We didn’t win conference this year for my first time. We kind of faltered and fell back a little bit,” he said.
There was a bright spot to the conference meet as Keenan received second team all conference honors after finishing six shots off the winner.
Of the 10-man team at Parkland, only the top five players play in the tournaments while the other 5 are left to practice during the course of the season.
“If an individual goes, they don’t play as the team sport, but they can win the tournament as themselves,” he explained. “For me, that’s a great opportunity to give more guys an opportunity under pressure in competition.”
That player’s scores are only factored into the individual race for medalist honors and not the team honors.
Freshman Jake Walters from Bloomington Central Catholic enjoyed that privilege at the opening John A. Logan Invite firing a two-day total of 159.
Occasionally, those bottom five guys will get their shot at a tournament like their own Parkland Invite over the weekend.
The bottom five also played at Danville in the DACC Invite last fall as well. “The nice part about that it is they have the opportunity to play some collegiate golf,” he said.
Josh Krumwiede, Nate Overman, and Mason Silver saw their first action of the spring last weekend as the only guys yet to crack the top five.
On non-tournament days, the Cobras practice at all three of the private clubs in the C-U area. Those include Lincolnshire Country Club (Champaign), Champaign Country Club and Urbana Country Club.
Practice is huge for those who don’t have a solidified spot in the top five for a given week because it is imperative they continue to improve and they also may get their shot to jump into that group.
“Sometimes when we’re on the course we’ll do different sorts of drills and workout things so it’s not always just throwing them out to play,” he said. “I also want to give guys an opportunity to play and qualify for tournaments, and quite honestly that (practice) is the easiest way to do that.”
Practice aside, the Cobras and McNabney are focused on ending this season on the right note after some early struggles.
“My goal is to get to nationals every year,” he said. “And there’s no reason that I don’t have five guys that can get us there, it’s just they have to believe they can get there.”
McNabney is stressing to his players to finish each round as strong as you start it in order to give themselves the best shot at getting to the national tournament as a team. The advice he gives his team is simple.
“You’ve got to finish strong, don’t quit,” he said referring to the last few holes of a given round. “You’ve got to play all 18 holes.”
The top five that McNabney decides on for the postseason will be put to that test this coming weekend as Region 24 tournament play is set for Sunday and Monday with a berth at nationals on the line.
(Athletic Director Rod Lovett contributed to this report)