GW hits the links for spring season with postseason in sights

The men’s golf team’s spring 2012 season contains plenty of engaging storylines.

There’s the narrative that follows various members of its roster: senior Andres Pumariega, who transferred into the program last year to become one of its standout competitors, senior captains Martin Liu and Brandon Rukin, whose consistent performances provide valuable stability to the team and freshman Jack Persons, who exploded out of the gates in the fall to set new school records.

The team’s fall season, one that saw the Colonials steadily rise to the top of a pack by its conclusion in November, is an additional undertone for spring competition. But perhaps GW’s most interesting storyline over its recent play is the opponent it has no control over: the conditions in which the team competes.

“We have not played too great,” head coach Terry Shaffer said. “The weather has not helped either playing in 30-degree weather with 35-mile-per-hour wind. But I know we can play better.”

The Colonials have completed three spring competitions, kicking off play against Georgia State March 13, where they tied with the Panthers, competing in a four-player match play format. Next, GW hosted the 14th annual GW Golf Invitational March 16 to the 17, finishing fourth of 12 teams. Pumariega, the defending tournament champion, led the Colonials in the competition, finishing in a tie for fourth out of 69 golfers.

The Colonials hit the links Monday at the Penn Quarter Invitational, traveling to the Trump National Philadelphia Golf Club to finish in eighth place of 16 teams. Once again, Pumariega led GW, finishing in sixth of 85 with a two-round 11-over par 153.

The Colonials have typically been in the top half of the pack in competitions but Shaffer sees room for significant improvement. The pool of opponents will only get stronger as the season goes on, GW’s head coach pointed out, and his team needs its performance to grow along with the challenge. His players agree, recognizing the importance of continuing to boost their play.

“The last couple tournaments we have played might seem like pretty good finishes, but the fields in the upcoming tournaments will be of higher quality,” Pumariega said. “We have not played as well as we liked, but it has been really difficult conditions.”

Simply due to the nature of its sport, the men’s golf team is unique. The Colonials essentially compete individually, their total scores combining to create a team entry.

Despite the solo competition on the course, GW’s mentality is team-first. The players’ goals aren’t to reach new personal heights but to grab the A-10 championship title. Pumariega takes each competition one shot at a time, he said, knowing that focusing on performing as well as he can will only help the team’s combined score.

GW’s drive and potential are heartening for Shaffer. With three tournaments left before the A-10 championship kicks off April 27, Shaffer knows his players are focused on the same end goal as their head coach.

“My goal is to win the A-10 championship,” Shaffer said. “I believe that we have the horses to win the title.”

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