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It is hard to practice your putting stroke when the ground is covered in snow.

Faced with one of the harshest winters in decades, several European players on the ASU men's golf weren't able to craft their putting strokes during winter break with the same consistency they have been accustomed to in the past.

In the Sun Devils first two tournaments, the rust has shown.

ASU has finished 10th and sixth, respectively, in its last two events due in large part, coach Randy Lein said, to struggles on the putting green.

“Ball striking we are fine — that's not what's hurting us,” Lein said. “There has been too many three-putts … we aren't getting up and down. … We aren't a finely tuned engine at this point.”

Lein said that while the snowy winter may have put a dent in the practice regimens of some his top players, he still expects them to be playing better than they have in the early going.

“These aren't freshman; they are juniors and seniors and they should be playing better,” Lein said. “I'm not saying anything they don't know; they know what is expected of them.”

Despite a slower start than Lein and his team hoped for, though, the coach remains optimistic, saying that the Sun Devils are “close” to finding their groove.

“I'm disappointed, but I'm not discouraged,” Lein said.

Kennegard cruising

One Sun Devil who has started off on the right foot is junior Jesper Kennegard. The Swedish native posted a final-round 66 on his way to a 5-under at the Battle of the Beach event, good enough for his first top-10 finish of the season (tied for eighth).

“He's been playing really well,” Lein said. “He played well in Hawaii, too, but the scores didn't show it because of the wind. He feels confident in how he's playing.”

Just missing out on a top 10 finish this week was junior Scott Pinckney, who finished tied for 11th.

“[Kennegard's play] has been no surprise for us,” Lein said.

Power of the Pac

With eight teams ranked in the top 20, it was clear in the preseason that the Pac-10 was going to be loaded, and early season results have shown the conference's squads are deserving of the recognition.

In addition to UCLA's win at the Battle of the Beach tournament last week, California won the Arizona Collegiate hosted by UA on Feb. 2.

“Cal's coach said it might be the best team he's ever had,” Lein said.

In addition to the normal strong performances by schools like Stanford, UCLA and Washington, Lein said the emergence of the Oregon schools this season has made the Pac-10 and even tougher conference.

ASU is next in action on March 1 at the USC Invitational.

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