The ASU men’s golf team is heading into the spring with a very young lineup, and with the fall season under their belts, coach Tim Mickelson expects more out of his budding athletes.
“It’s expected that we’re going to have some growing pains,” Mickelson said. “But the guys’ ball striking looks better than the fall. They’re hitting it solid, and they look much more comfortable out there.”
Seven out the team’s 10 roster spots are currently filled by freshman and sophomores, which has Mickelson leading a positive outlook for the future.
“I see a lot of upside in these guys,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson believes his team underachieved in tournaments throughout the fall, which accounted for its No. 72 ranking to end the season.
“We plan on moving up between 20 and 30 spots this season,” Mickelson said. “I have no doubt we can do it.”
Aside from freshman Jon Rahm Rodriguez, everyone failed to reach their potential. It’s left a lot of room for improvement, Mickelson said.
This fall, Rodriguez was the first freshman since 2008 to win a tournament outright when he took the Bill Cullum Invitational.
Mickelson said despite his age, Rodriguez is expected to be the guy the team will look to for leadership on the course.
“He just turned 18 in November,” Mickelson said. “He hits far, has a great short game and putting.”
The team’s first tournament of the spring is the Arizona Invitational beginning on Jan. 28, in Tucson.
Mickelson said his eye is set on a putting up a good showing there in order to set the tone for a strong rest of the season.
Qualifying rounds for next week’s tournament started a week ago, and the team will take its top five players to Tucson.
The qualifying rounds consist of 90 holes over 5 rounds and the two lowest scorers earn their berth automatically. The other three are hand picked by the coaches.
Mickelson will now be making his the three picks with the input of newly hired coach Joe Prince.
The former assistant coach of the University of San Diego men’s golf team will hold the same position at ASU.
“(Prince) makes me better by making up for my defienciencies as a coach,” Mickelson said. “Together, we make a great coaching tandem.”
Prince believes he has a lot to offer to the program, beginning with the ability to teach his guys mental strength.
“I can help the guys get in the right mindset to play their best by staying positive and steady during tournaments,” Price said. “I’ve been successful in other places, and I’m sure I can do it here, too.”
Having only worked about three weeks with the team so far, Prince said he is still getting to know the players. He will work closely with each athlete throughout the season to help with their individual needs.
“When I start I tend to let the guys ask me for what they want,” Price said. “Throughout the semester, I learn what that is.”
Sophomore Austin Quick said he is excited to work with Prince.
“I like him as a person and a coach,” Quick said. “He knows a lot about the game.”
Quick said the team as it is right now is much stronger than last year, and with help from the coaches, they’re looking to make a run all the way to nationals.
“We’re flying under the radar right now,” Quick said. “I think the program is headed in the right direction.”
Although he is looking forward to playing well as a team, Quick also has goals of his own. Individually, he is looking to win a tournament this spring after coming close to winning one last year.
“I like feeling the pressure coming down the stretch to succeed,” Quick said.
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