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Strong underclassmen look to break records for ASU men's golf

After sophomores Michael Mjaaseth and Luke Potter set records in their freshmen campaigns, the four incoming freshman look to fly higher than the previous class and set records

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ASU sophomore golfers Michael Mjaaseth and Luke Potter at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Ill. on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.

Sophomores Michael Mjaaseth and Luke Potter simultaneously broke ASU freshman records last season. 

While their scoring averages remain worse than the ones posted last season, the two remain vital pieces to the team's success. 

Potter went undefeated against USC and UA in two doubles and two singles matches at the Copper Cup, the first tournament following the new year.

Mjaaseth, who played only one doubles match and one singles match, also pulled out a win over USC with junior Josele Ballester. Mjaaseth says this tournament was just a warm-up for ASU, and that the team will only improve throughout the spring semester.

"I feel like this past tournament was kind of a warm-up for the season," Mjaaseth said. "I was back home for a couple of weeks and got a lot of good work done. (I'm) knocking the rust off the game, and I'm looking forward to getting back after it.”

Although Mjaaseth and Potter hold the strongest scoring averages for freshmen in ASU history, the new freshman class could give them a run for their money. Four freshmen joined the roster this year: Nick Prieto, Connor Williams, Fifa Laopakdee, and Wenyi Ding.

All four freshmen have put up impressive numbers so far in their careers as Sun Devils. Each of them is maintaining a scoring average of at most 71.5. While Ding has only played one tournament, he leads the way with a 70.72 scoring average. 

READ MORE: ASU men's golf fall to UA in first tournament of promising spring slate

If Ding maintains his scoring average for the rest of the season, he will tie Mjaaseth's score as the best freshman overall score in school history. If Prieto and Laopakdee maintain their scoring averages of 71.00, they will tie Potter for second place in freshman scoring.

Mjaaseth speaks highly of Ding and explains that he is an incredible player to watch out for.

"He's one of the best amateurs in the world," Mjaaseth said. "Look out for Ding."

Though Ding could not play for the first semester of his freshman season, other freshmen on the team showed flashes of brilliance.

Laopakdee and Prieto stood out the most in the fall season. Both players won important individual events during their fall semesters. However, Laopakdee has been injured, taking him out of the lineup for the beginning of the spring semester. Head coach Matt Thurmond said both players have been very important in the lineup thus far.

"Fifa (Laopakdee) had a great start to the fall, tapered off a little bit at the end, and then got injured," Thurmond says. "Nick Prieto also won a big event as an individual in the fall and was awesome at Cypress Point to help us win there."

ASU finished first at the Cypress Point Classic in October 2023, sparking a desire to continue succeeding through the spring. Though three of the freshmen started the season strong, Williams started the season in a rough patch, according to Thurmond.

"Connor Williams was pretty quiet in the fall, worked hard and played okay," Thurmond said. "He had an awesome offseason and looked really good at the Copper Cup."

Williams won 7 out of 12 holes in match play at the Copper Cup. Despite his difficult fall season, Potter, who knew Williams before he came to ASU, said he can already see his improvement.

"I've seen his game progress a lot in the last couple of years," Potter said. "He's had a good start to this semester already. Only one tournament, and I can already see some improvement."

With Williams's rise and the immediate success of other freshmen like Ding, this freshman class looks good enough to threaten Mjaaseth and Potter’s scoring records last season. With the combination of the new freshmen and the sophomores on the squad, ASU Golf is set to play very well in the Spring season. 

Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith, Grace Copperthite and Shane Brennan

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