By Alexa Brackin
The Baylor men’s golf team will kick off the 2012-13 season today with the Topy Cup. They will compete against four Japanese teams as well as Oregon State, San Diego and Pacific. The tournament, which will run through Thursday, will be held at the Tanagura Country Club in Tanagura, Japan.
“We have tried to get in this tournament for a long time,” head coach Greg Priest said. “With only four teams going, it’s pretty selective. Our number got drawn this year, so it is going to be a good opportunity for us.”
The three-day tournament will consist of 54 holes on a course made up of 7,050 yards and a par-72. Each team will begin on the first hole for all three rounds of the event.
“From what I have gathered, everyone is bringing their best playerss We are just up against some good teams,” Priest said. “It will be a great experience for us. We are looking forward to going over there and seeing what we can do.”
The Bears’ opening lineup consists of senior Ryan O’Rear, sophomores Mikkel Bjerch-Andresen, Kyle Jones and Niclas Mansson and freshman Andreas Gjesteby.
“I am really excited this year because we have a strong team coming in,” Mansson said. “Just being over there and seeing what golf courses look like in Japan is going to be really interesting. Playing against the Japanese teams is going to be really fun as well.”
Along with the five players traveling to Japan, the 2012-13 team returns seniors Jerry Ruiz and Matthew Seligmann as well as sophomore Filippo Zucchetti. The Bears also welcome freshmen Scott Terrel and Charles Neel White.
“I think we’ve got a good team. Most of them have got at least a year under their belt, so we will just see what happens,” Priest said. “I feel good about it, we have definitely got some good players, so it is time for them to step up and see what they can do.”
As the most experienced player on an overall young team, O’Rear, a senior Salado native, struggled in the spring with a swing change, Priest said.
“I think he lost a little confidence when he went through the swing change, but he got it all worked out and is playing good right now,” Priest said. “Hopefully he goes back to old form.”
2012 marked the 15th consecutive NCAA regional appearance for the Bears. The 2012-13 team hopes to continue the streak by playing in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
“Our major goal is to make the NCAA tournament,” Priest said. “We want to make sure we do everything we can to make it there this year.”
The team also welcomes its new assistant coach Ryan Blagg. He was a member of Priest’s 1998 NCJAA Tyler Junior College national championship team.
The women’s golf team opened its 2012-2013 season Monday and Tuesday, and is currently in Fort Collins, Colo., to play in the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic presented by Colorado State.
The Classic is the first of the Lady Bears’ nine regular-season tournaments.
“Colorado is going to be a great start off to the season,” Coach Jay Goble said. “We are competing against really good teams, but it is a relaxed tournament. It is going to be a very comfortable start to the season. It is going to be exciting to see how the season starts.”
The women are coming off one of the best seasons in the program’s history but lost three of their top players to graduation.
Junior Kaylin Terry and sophomores Hayley Davis and Emma Carberry returned from last year’s team and welcome freshmen Annette Lyche, Natalia Perez and Lauren Taylor to make up this year’s team.
“The team is a great group of student athletes from all over the world,” Goble said. “They have all done tournament golf before. There are only six, but they are all very close-knit, and they all support each other.”
Davis earned her second All-American title in May, receiving an honorable mention from Golfweek. She was the first player in the program’s history to earn the All-American title last season.
“I had a great year last year,” Davis said. “I thought it would take time [to get used to golf in America] but I settled in quite nicely. We have three new freshmen. They are great people, great players and a great part of the team.”
Carberry comes into the season having won the 2012 English Women’s Open Mid-Amateur Championship in July. As a freshman on the 2011-2012 team, she did not attend the majority of team tournaments.
“Emma put in so much work last year being on the outside looking in,” Goble said. “It made her see what she wanted and work harder. I expect her to have a great year this year.”
Lauren Taylor joins the team having won the 2011 Ladies British Open Amateur Championship. She is ranked No. 18 in the world amateur golf standings.
“She competed against some of the best players in the world, and she beat all of them,” Goble said. “She has already shown that she is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
This season will kick off Goble’s second season coaching the Lady Bears. After returning from Colorado, the team will make its way to Albuquerque on Sept. 16 and 17 to compete in the Dick McGuire Invitational.
“The schedule we have for the 2012-13 season could be the strongest this team has ever played,” Goble said in a press release. “We are playing in three tournaments which consistently rank among the top five tournaments for field strength in women’s collegiate golf. This will give our very young team a lot of competition to play against the top teams in the country week in and week out.”