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Underclassmen impressing early, often during fall season

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

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Marquette golf had plenty of questions about their roster coming in to the 2016-’17 season. After graduating four seniors, all of whom were regular starters, head coach Steve Bailey had lost his core. Gone were guys like Nick Nelson and Patrick Sanchez, solid four-year contributors that helped build the program.

“Obviously a really big class graduated. … those four guys were the core of our leadership,” Steve Bailey said back in August.

Replacing seniors is a challenge that a college coach will face regardless of the sport. However, this situation seemed more difficult than usual due to the roster makeup.

The current nine-man roster is composed of six underclassmen, three of whom are freshmen.

One would expect an inexperienced roster to struggle mightily. However the underclassmen have performed admirably through four tournaments.

The most intriguing storyline through two months of the season has been the fantastic play of freshman Matt Murlick. The Wisconsin native has started every tournament for the Golden Eagles during the fall season and has dazzled while doing so. Going into the weekend, Murlick was leading the team in scoring with an average of 72.11. He was also leading the team in last round scoring average, par 4 scoring and par 5 scoring. Not to mention, the freshman also has the lowest single round score on the team this season (67.)

Ferdinand Mueller has also impressed in his first year of collegiate golf. While he hasn’t put up eye-popping scores, the freshman has been a picture of consistency. After putting up a 74-74-74 score line at the season-opening Badger Invitational, Mueller was penciled in as a starter for the following two tournaments.

Although the German is last on the team in birdies, he was first in pars per round coming into the Northern Intercollegiate (12.17). Keep in mind that this is his first season playing NCAA golf. Expect those birdie totals to rise for Mueller as he continues to grow and become stronger. For now, the consistency from the young player is something to take note of.

Wisconsin native Matthew Bachmann has also shown flashes during his limited action. Just last weekend the freshman marked down a 68 on his scorecard, the second lowest round score on the team.

All three freshmen have started in at least one tournament.

And they aren’t the only underclassmen excelling in the early part of the season. Returning starter and last year’s leading average scorer Oliver Farrell has also had a solid start to his sophomore campaign. Before the Northern Intercollegiate, Farrell was second on the team in scoring, just behind Murlick. After registering a third round score of 69, Farrell finished the tournament with an even par 213, good for a career-best fifth place finish. He is now the leading average scorer for Marquette once again.

Fellow sophomore Charlie Maleki also had a fantastic tournament. Despite a slower start to his season, the Wisconsin native put up a sterling 1-over-par score at Beverly Country Club. His 214 score was the first time that he had ever finished with a score below 220.

If you’re coach Bailey, you have to be pleased by the progress of the underclassmen through four tournaments. Back on Aug. 30, I titled my season preview “Youth movement on the links.” It looks like the movement is already in full swing.

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