We have to continue to improve because everyone else is improving, said Lasky, who took over the head coaching reigns after seven years as an assistant. I believe we are a better team than last year because of our overall depth, but in order to keep our advantage, everyone on the team needs to work hard and push each other.
Achieving success head-to-head against region rivals Rhode Island, Yale, Central Connecticut, Army and Hartford will be paramount to gaining a second-straight NCAA bid. Unlike the rest of BUs sports, the Bearcats must present a convincing argument to a selection committee in order to receive an at-large national berth (the America East golf champion does not receive an automatic NCAA berth). Last spring the Bearcats did just that, earning one of three at-large spots afforded to District I.
Laskys 10-man squad features seniors Joe Kunz, Keith Hendrickson and Eric Vinal, sophomores Brad Moulton and Kevin Crawford and freshman Jeff Wolniewicz six players who are vying for the five starting positions. Hendrickson (76.0), Moulton (76.11), Crawford (76.15) and Kunz (76.3) each played to within one stroke of each other last year, and Vinal (77.5) was close behind. Aaron Ungvarsky, the 2003 scholastic state runner-up in Massachusetts and nephew of PGA veteran Joey Sindelar, also has earned a spot on the team and is eager to break into the lineup, as are talented sophomores Matt Mattingly, Chris McLaughlin and Scott Harvey.
With the addition of Jeff and Aaron, and the maturing of some of the returning players, we have a deeper squad, which will lead to more intersquad competition, Lasky said. That will start to push everyone to work on their games and continue to get better. I expect to have a difficult decision picking only five guys to represent us each week.
Kunz has earned the No. 1 label from Lasky early in the fall. The former junior college national champion and 2003 all-region honoree is fresh from an outstanding summer season which was highlighted by a strong showing at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. Playing among a high-caliber field of 156, Kunz knocked off the 2001 junior amateur champion and advanced to the round of 16. Last year, he led the Bearcats with three tournament wins and captured America East medalist honors after carding rounds of 73-70 at BUs En-Joie Golf Course. Kunz also placed third out of 114 golfers at the Yale Spring Open.
Joe is the most talented ball-striker we have, Lasky said. He can hit hooks, fades, hit it long, high... play whatever shot is necessary. Hes also benefited a great deal from his summer experience at the U.S. Publinks. Playing in a national event, especially on the heels of our NCAA experience, really boosted his game and confidence. We are looking for senior leadership from Joe, which hes demonstrated he can offer. Hes capable of shooting low consistently, and winning even more events than he did last year.
Hendrickson begins his second year as the teams No. 2 man. The 2003 all-region selection had seven top-10 finishes in 13 tournaments last year, including runner-up honors at the ECAC Championship and the Rehoboth Beach Invitational. Like Kunz, Hendrickson enjoyed a successful summer, most notably finishing second to former teammate Adam Fuchs at the Long Island Golf Association Publinks Championship played at Bethpage Black. He fired a 4-under 68 in the opening round at the notoriously treacherous course.
Like Joe, Keith is very long off the tee, Lasky said. No par 5 is too long for him to reach in two, and he is also one of the best putters we have. With his talent, hes never out of a hole. But Keiths biggest asset is his competitiveness. He has a tremendous inner drive to play well, and everyone on the team looks to him for that intensity every week. Hes the backbone of the team.
Vinal has earned the captains role for the year, and is a very capable player in the lineup. He played in nine tournaments last year, picking up four top-20 finishes. Vinal raised some eyebrows this summer with his performance at the Central NYPGA Emmett Kelly Pro-Am event. He fired a 68 to top dozens of club professionals and won the tournament.
Eric will play a vital role in the success of our team, Lasky said. He is our only four-year player, and is an important link to our past players and tradition. He is a natural leader, and possesses one of the best swings on the team. Were looking for him to have a breakout year.
Moulton and Crawford provided the spark for the teams late-season NCAA push last spring, and are middle lineup guys who are capable of firing low numbers on any given day. Even as a freshman, Moulton was the steadiest performer on the team last year. He produced six top-10 finishes and only four times in 27 rounds did the team not use his score. The Ontario native fired a 1-under 71 to place first at the competitive Rhode Island Invitational, leading BU to a victory that all-but sealed its NCAA selection. In addition, his 76.1 stroke average was the teams lowest during the spring season.
Crawford, the 2002 New York State high school champion, earned a starting role in the spring, and paid dividends immediately. Six of his final eight rounds were 76 or lower, and he was the teams low man at the NCAA East Regional. At Auburn University, Crawford closed the 54-hole event with an even-par 72 to finish in the top half of a loaded field that included 10 teams ranked in the nations top-25. His summer resume included a hole-in-one, a runner-up showing in the Buffalo District Golf Association Championship (72-71-69) and entry into the prestigious Porter Cup.
Brad and Kevin brought a real dedication and work ethic to the team last year, Lasky said. They lifted weights and hit balls into the nets, and that hard work allowed each player to elevate his game throughout the season, culminating with posting the lowest stroke averages in the spring. Both guys are steady and are also excellent grinders, and thats crucial with the weather conditions we endure. At any tournament you may not have your best stuff, but you cant give up. Ive found recruits from the Northeast in particular have that blue-collar mentality to grind it out.
Wolniewicz has brought an even stronger game than Lasky anticipated, and the freshman may push his way into the starting lineup sooner rather than later. His credentials include runner-up honors at the New York State Junior Amateur Championship, being a top-10 placewinner at the New York State high school championship, placing fourth at the AJGA Lessings Classic, and competing at the New York State Amateur Championship, where he advanced to match play before falling to the eventual tournament winner. As a high school junior, Wolniewicz fired a 69 to qualify for the Porter Cup, becoming one of the youngest participants in that national event.
Jeff has extensive junior golf credentials, Lasky said. He has played throughout the south and east, and has the ability to go low under pressure. He has exceptional skills and a calm demeanor on the golf course, which is so impressive for someone his age. Jeff has the talent and drive to be one of the best golfers weve ever had at Binghamton.
sends BU up against the top teams in the Northeast
The schedule is very Division I-oriented early in the season, which is different from previous years, Lasky said. We are being accpeted more in Division I, which has led to tournament invitations that were hard to come by in the past. I also think our selection to the NCAA regionals has made us more of the hunted rather than the hunter, so teams want a shot at us now.
has rare balance between Nos. 1-5
Everyone on the team pushes each other, Lasky said. When your No. 4 and No. 5 guys post low, that puts pressure on your opponents and can wear on their psyche. Our guys enjoy the internal competition and take great pride in helping the team win. Everyone wants to be one of the counter scores- to play well for their teammates.
excited to begin new challenge
am privileged to be associated with these 10 young men,
he said. There is a lot of excitement as the players return
to campus, and the team has an expectation level thats
as high as Ive ever seen. This team is hungry to get back
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