Jordan Smith | Sports Writer
The Baylor men’s golf team is gearing up for the start of the 2016-17 season as it heads into its first official tournament this weekend at Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois.
The Bears start this season as the 24th ranked team in the country. Head coach Mike McGraw said he looks forward to traveling to Olympia Fields.
“Well, it’s one of my favorite places in all of golf,” McGraw said. It’s a beautiful, old golf course. Old style, huge trees — it’s big boys golf. It’s a great, great golf course.”
“The membership gets behind the tournament, and they run one of the best tournaments in college golf,” McGraw said.
McGraw has his eye set on one specific golfer this season to do really well based on his off-season results, sophomore Garrett May. May made his collegiate debut last fall and tied for 10th place at Gopher Invitational. Althouh difficult to do, May shot 1-under 70 in first collegiate round.
“Garrett May, who was in and out of the lineup last year. It was great to see his progress over the summer; he played very well. He won the Cotton States Amateur, finished second in the Arkansas State Amateur, finished third in the Magnolia Amateur. He had a lot of really good finishes in tournaments, so I was anxious to see if that would translate, and then he won this qualifying by six,” McGraw said.
“He beat all of the players that returned off of last year’s national championship team,” McGraw said. “So I’ve got to believe that was a pleasant surprise that his game has gotten that much better.”
With collegiate experience under his belt, Junior Matthew Perrine is really looking to get better at finishing this season off strong, not only for himself, but also for the team.
“Individually, [I’m] always striving to have more Top 5, Top 10 finishes,” Perrine said. “Getting my first collegiate win would be huge, but with that will come more team success as well, so the two really go hand in hand.”
After finishing 27th at the 2016 NCAA National Championship, sophomore Braden Bailey said he and his team are ready to get back to the national championship tournament and do more than just get there.
“I don’t think we were quite ready last year, honestly. We were just excited to be there,” Bailey said. “This year, we want to go and actually compete and make it to match play and make a nice little run at a championship. Last year, I don’t think we were mentally ready for that. But I think this year, we’re going to instill that belief in ourselves throughout the year and hopefully we can make a real run at a national championship.”
The Bears tee off Friday and action will continue through Sunday.