Marquette men’s golf: Motz finishes tied for second

Sophomore Michael Motz finished tied for second at the John Dallio Memorial with a 1-over 217. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

The Marquette men’s golf team faltered this weekend at the John Dallio Memorial in Lemont, Ill., finishing tied for 13th out of 15 teams at 74-over par. Marquette was 65 strokes back of first place Florida Gulf Coast. More importantly, the team continued to let anxiety negatively affect its performance on the course.

“Before the tournament even started I saw some nervous swings, and people were anxious,” sophomore Michael Motz said. “If they can relax out there, scores will go down.”

Motz and fellow sophomore Corey Konieczki were the lone bright spots for the Golden Eagles, with Motz leading Marquette with a 1-over par 217. Motz finished tied for second. Konieczki placed in a tie for 22nd with his 11-over par 227 in the 77-man field. He echoed Motz’s sentiments about the team.

“Guys have been doing this for three, four years and they weren’t quite mentally prepared,” Konieczki said. “It’s probably a result of weeks past, when we’ve had mixed results. Instead of focusing on the good, they just focused on the bad.”

With three golfers finishing 63rd or worse — freshman Austin Wilson, senior Matt Haase, and junior Ryan Prickette — there was an ample amount of “bad” to focus on.

However, coach Steve Bailey believes anxiety was not the primary scapegoat overall. Instead it was a lack of accuracy off the tee.

“I wouldn’t say we were nervous,” Bailey said. “But it was just a golf course that if you didn’t hit the ball straight, you got into some big trouble. You were going to be penalized, and it cost us some strokes.”

At any rate, the sophomores had it all figured out this weekend at Lemont’s Ruffled Feathers Golf Club. Had Konieczki not struggled with his putting, Marquette could have seen two top-10 finishers.

“I know that my game is good, and I have the ability to win the golf tournament,” Motz said. “You have to want it, and I want to be the best.

Motz described Ruffled Feathers as a “target golf (course),” where the length is less problematic than correct decision-making, execution, and mental toughness. According to Konieczki, this style suited his recent play.

“The last couple weeks I hit the ball well,” he said. “I had a lot of confidence going in and my driver and approach shots were there the whole weekend.”

Konieczki continued by explaining the effect that a lack of mental preparation can have on golfers.

“On birdie opportunities, I’d be thinking, ‘you have to make this’ and it all got into my head. You become just be fidgety and nervous,” he said.

Moving forward, the team can ill-afford another case of nervousness, as next weekend’s Windon Memorial Classic features some of the best amateur competition in the country. Host Northwestern boasts seven players coming off invitations to the 2011 Western Amateur Championship, while UCLA brings the world’s no.1 ranked amateur golfer in sophomore Patrick Cantlay.

No matter the competition, Motz characterized the team’s performance in Lemont as “disappointing.”

“Individually, I think I’m coming on and in the right place to go forward,” he said. “But our team doesn’t reflect how far we’ve worked. We need to improve.”

Bailey is confident that improvement will come, saying, “The field this weekend is going to challenge us, but I believe we are ready to accept it.”