By: Garrett Osterode/GCU Staff
After an underwhelming seventh-place finish a semester ago at the NCCGA Spring National Championships in West Lafayette, Indiana, the Grand Canyon University Club Golf team is hungry and motivated to return to national champion form this upcoming weekend.
The top programs ranging from New Hampshire all the way to Arizona make up a field of 56 different colleges and over 350 players participating in this years’ NCCGA Fall 2019 Nationals at the WinStar Golf Club in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
NextGenGolf, the same publication that had the Lopes ranked No. 2 before the season, has GCU ranked fifth in their power rankings heading into the tournament. Obviously, the Lopes have their sights set on a first-place finish, and Lopes’ Head Coach John Wasson could not be worried less about the rankings.
“We don’t have time to look at that stuff,” said Wasson. “We are always motivated to win, so I don’t think that gives us any extra motivation.”
Wasson and Company believe they have the perfect combination of experienced veterans who have seen the national championship stage alongside talented and eager freshmen who are looking forward to the opportunity to shine on a big stage.
“We should do pretty well if we play up to our potential,” said Wasson. “We’ve got four returners who have been to a number of national tournaments and know what to expect, but also the young guys who haven’t been in that limelight but are very talented.”
Out of that group, a few guys have an opportunity to shine, most notably freshman Tyler Smerz, who is coming off a first-place individual finish at the NCCGA Desert Regional II. Along with Smerz, Braden Price, Logan Hardy and Nick Roberts all play a significant role on this year’s team.
When asked why Wasson believes this team can get over the hurdle and overcome the favorites such as last year’s champ Clemson, and other blue-chip programs such as Virginia and Michigan, the fourth-year head coach feels at ease because of the players’ work ethic.
“Our guys are out there working hard every single day,” said Wasson. “Not only that, everyone is getting along and connecting as teammates. It’s great to see.”
The Lopes will certainly be put to the test, not only against fierce competition, but by the harsh conditions of Oklahoma in November. The forecast for Thackerville this weekend is a high of 58 degrees with a significant amount of wind – much different than the comfortable confines of the Arizona desert. The first round of this year’s 36-hole tournament will begin this Saturday, Nov. 16.
Interested in playing club golf at GCU? Contact Head Coach John Wasson today!