The Marquette men’s golf team went a little off the beaten path last Friday, taking on Florida Atlantic in a rare dual match at the par-72 Abacoa Golf Course. The Golden Eagles lost 304-299 to the Owls in one day of competition despite solid performances from freshman Adam Chester and junior Ryan Prickette.
Chester matched Florida Atlantic’s top finisher with an even-par 72, while Prickette finished second for Marquette with a 76. In an all-or-nothing single round of play, however, every stroke took on more importance and the Golden Eagles again were unable to pull off a complete top to bottom performance.
Coach Steve Bailey was impressed with Chester’s performance as he continued to observe the freshman’s raw talent. Bailey said Chester still has work to do to become an elite, complete golfer, but he hopes the rest of the team will rise to his level of play.
“I think Adam (Chester) is a big part of it. He’s got worlds of talent, and I think we’re going to see his scores continue to improve,” Bailey said. “We’re making his short game a big emphasis in practice, and if he can improve on his putting, he’ll get even better. We believe that good play is contagious, so we hope as he gets better the rest of the team will bring their games up to his level.”
At the bottom of the lineup, senior Matt Haase shot a 13 over par 85 and sophomore Corey Konieczki shot an 8 over par 80. The difference between the one and six spots was again too big for Marquette to overcome.
“Unfortunately for Matt (Haase) he had one really bad hole, and he put up a big number,” Bailey said. “Obviously we want contributions from all our guys, and we came up about five shots short this week.”
Prickette said playing a dual match reminded him of his high school days and that it was cool to have a bit of a change in pace. He felt that the score wasn’t as close as the results portrayed, but that it was still a round that Marquette could’ve won.
“We didn’t lose by a ton, but at the same time five shots in one round isn’t too close because over a stretch of three rounds it’s a fifteen shot difference,” Prickette said. “It’s hard to tell after a one-day tournament … I thought we were pretty evenly matched, and we could’ve beaten them.”
Bailey said the Big East Championships in Orlando, Fla., are the Golden Eagle’s focal point as the season winds down, and the anomaly of the dual meet gave his team some valuable experience in Florida’s golf environment.
“The main reason for this was to go down there and get the competitive juices flowing again and get some more experience on Bermuda grass,” Bailey said. “It’s all preparation for the Big East Championships. They’re the highlight of the year for us, and we’re trying to do everything we can to get ready for them.”
The team got a little extra practice in at a former PGA course, which Bailey said further helped the team prepare for the turf at the Big East Championships.
“Fortunately we were able to practice as well while we were down there,” Bailey said. “We got to play PGA National, which is the site of the old Honda Classic. It was important to be able to play down south on a different type of grass than we’re used to.”
Marquette will play one more regular season tournament this weekend at Notre Dame before heading back to the sunshine state for the Championships.