Led by a reliable core of capable veterans, the golf team enters the spring season with a set of individual and team goals highlighted by aspirations for a NCAA Tournament bid.

“Coming into the spring season we have a very ambitious set of goals including winning our first two tournaments,” head coach Rich Johnson said. “That is what it will take for the team to be invited to the NCAA Championships this season.”

The Yellowjackets open up their spring season the weekend of April 5-6 when they travel to Howard, Oh. to play in the Kenyon Cup at Apple Valley Golf Course. The following weekend, UR heads to Herhsey, Pa. for the Mid-Atlantic Region Invitational.

Following the team’s annual seven-day spring break trip to Hilton Head Island, S.C. the first week of March, many players showed signs of improvement as they spent hours on the course honing their skills. Playing 18 holes every day, the Yellowjackets worked primarily on their short games, something they are not able to do in the snowy conditions of upstate New York.

Still, Johnson feels there are areas where the team still has room to improve.

“Our ball striking was a little loose and inconsistent,” Johnson said. “We need to hit more fairways and hit more greens. We need to get the ball on the green and closer to the hole with our scoring clubs.”

The team returns all five of its regular travelers from last season, including senior captain Mike Quijano, who lead the Yellowjackets with a 76.9 average in the fall. Based on performances in spring practice, Johnson singles out senior Scott Clyde and junior Jason Bronstein along with Quijano as those upperclassmen who are playing the best golf lately. Bronstein in particular has made great strides since the fall portion of the season thanks in part to hard work in the offseason and better concentration.

“The one who has made the most improvement is Jason,” Johnson said. “He has shown better ball striking and more consistency as well as a good short game, good putting.”

Senior John Semeniak, junior Dave Masters and sophomore Andy Salvatore will also be relied upon to contribute throughout the season.Of the four tournaments on the Yellowjackets’ schedule, UR is most looking forward to hosting the Fred B. Kravetz Invitational at historic Oak Hill Country Club, its home course.

“We are really excited about the Kravetz. We’ll have three of the top-six teams in the country participating.”

Second-ranked University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, fifth-ranked Greensboro College and sixth-ranked Saint John’s University of Minnesota will all travel to Rochester at the end of April for the tournament.

A close-knit group, the Yellowjackets look to capitalize on a combination of talent and experience as they look to improve upon their 2001-2002 campaign when they were the last team cut by the NCAA selection committee for an at-large bid.

Gerton can be reached at mgerton@campustimes.org.

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