After enduring a tiring 10-tournament season his freshman year, Luis Alfonso Preciado took his summer break away from the golf course.
But the sophomore golfer returned with a bang, topping the team with a 72.17 scoring average – an increase from last season’s 75.57 average – and leading the team in its first two tournaments. Preciado said he took a summer break from golf to refresh and is coming into the year with improved course management skills and a stronger mentality on the course.
“Getting a vacation with no golf, I came back fresh and ready to play. So I think that’s helped me a lot,” Preciado said.
Preciado tied for 45th place at the Marshall Invitational Sept. 9 to open the season. He dropped his score each round of the competition, shooting 80, 69 and 67, respectively, throughout the three rounds.
In the VCU Janney Invitational Sept. 16 and 17, Preciado tied for No. 32 in a field of 75 golfers. He finished the tournament +1 after shooting three under par in his first round. He said he hasn’t changed the mechanics of his swing, but he wants to grow stronger in his mental and emotional game.
Preciado’s scoring average of 72.17 is well below the team scoring average of 75 this season.
Preciado said the courses the team has played on this season have had low pars, which help him keep his average down. He added that the Marshall Invitational course specifically gave him room to score lower when he got into a groove.
“The courses that we’ve played haven’t really been as hard,” he said. “There is a lot of opportunities to shoot low, so I think that’s the type of course that fits my game as well.”
Preciado said he is looking to improve his course management strategy by breaking down the landscape of each course and ensuring that he is “satisfied” with his swings.
“I don’t try to get too technical and lose it there,” he said. “Just keep it simple and play.”
Last season, Preciado was called on to compete in 10 of 12 competitions for the Colonials as a freshman. He notched his highest finish at the Patriot Invitational Sept. 22, shooting a scoring average of 72.5 and tying for 17th place.
Preciado was one of two freshmen on the team of seven last year. Head coach Chuck Scheinost said injuries plagued the team last season, causing Preciado and sophomore Logan Othmer to step in and play tournaments despite experiencing fatigue.
“By the time we got some guys back from injury, he had earned a spot in the lineup that they were playing,” Sheinost said. “And Luis’ game last spring struggled a little bit. He got a little tired and unfortunately we really couldn’t pull him out of the lineup at the time.”
Scheinost said Preciado has been a consistent force on the team and has excelled on the putting green.
“Luis is probably one of the most consistent players we have and actually he’s one of the better putters we have on the team,” he said. “I think that’s a big part of it, is he’s able to recover with his putting.”
Scheinost said the sophomore needs to improve his game management, like choosing the correct shots to take, reading the lie or checking the position of the ball. He added that wedging shots is also an area of improvement for Preciado.
“The areas he’s improving on and continuing to work on a regular basis are his wedges, especially around the greens and learning shots, and figuring out how to understand how balls are going to come out of certain lines and what shots he has to play,” Scheinost said.
The team includes six returners, four of whom competed in the A-10 Championship last spring, and two freshmen. Ahead of their season, the Colonials looked to rely on their depth of experience to propel them toward an A-10 Championship.
Scheinost said Preciado has the potential to become an All-Conference player if he focuses on learning and growing as a golfer.
“I think that’s a combination of him just continuing to work on his game and pushing himself to become the best player he can be in all the areas,” he said.
The Colonials are back in action Monday and Tuesday at the West Virginia Mountaineer Invitational.
Rohan Kandeshwarath contributed reporting.