The 2013-14 ASU men’s golf season looks very promising as the team hopes to improve
on last season’s quarterfinal finish in NCAA match play, and depth may be the key.
With the returning players from last year’s team, not only are the Sun Devils
poised for a successful season this year, but coach Tim Mickelson said they also have young talent to contend for
the next few years.
“The entire rest of the team is extremely deep and highly talented,” Mickelson said. “So it just happens to be that those playing well at the moment will be in the lineup, and those struggling will be sitting out. We are very deep this year one through 11.”
Sophomores Jon Rahm and Max Rottluff, who spearheaded ASU’s success last year, are the core of the team this season. ASU is also returning the entire starting lineup from last year’s team at the National Championship, with only one senior on the team, Spencer Lawson.
Rahm had arguably the best freshman season in ASU history and was the second winner of the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award in University history.
He was selected on the All-Freshman team, shot an NCAA championship opening round record of 61 and was ranked first in the nation in par-5 scoring at 4.51 strokes.
Rahm was also tied for first in the nation with nine eagles, the most by a Sun Devil in the past 20 seasons and led the nation with 165 birdies. Rahm finished tied for second in NCAA men’s golf individual championship.
As does every player, Rahm looks to improve on specific areas of his game to accomplish his goal of winning Nationals.
“Last year, my putting and short game in general was not the best,” Rahm said. “I focused too much on hitting good iron and fairway shots. I will really work hard this season on my putting and chipping, because that is where you win tournaments.”
ASU starts off the 2013-14 season on Sept. 15 with the Golfweek Conference Challenge, held in Burlington, Iowa, followed by the University of Washington for the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational.
Golfweek.com ranks the ASU team No. 37 nationally, and Rahm No. 37 among all collegiate golfers.
Mickelson said ASU’s two toughest events will be the Amer Ari Invitational in Hawaii in early February and the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters tournament in Las Vegas in early March. Those two tournaments will have a top four strength of field in the country, he said.
The Sun Devils aim to continue their success, as they have qualified for the NCAA championship in 10 of the past 12 seasons and 28 of the past 30.
However, the road to the NCAA championship has become tougher with more parity across the country. After the 2013 regional, five of the top 30 teams according to Golfweek.com did not qualify for the tournament in Atlanta, Ga.
ASU’s fifth place finish last season in the NCAA championship was its best finish since the 2009 season when they also finished fifth. Rahm’s second place finish was the highest place finish since Alejandro Canizares’s first place finish in 2003.
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