Golf team preps for New Mexico

By Bryan Chouinard, Asst. Sports Editor

It’s a new year for head coach Randall McCracken’s golf team and, in a sense, it’s a new team.

Although the Utes only graduated one senior last year, the 2009-2010 season is going to be quite different from the year before.

“Guys are going to be more accountable this year,” McCracken said. “Last year was unacceptable, but we’re excited to get that behind us and start playing some good golf.”

The Utes kick off their fall schedule a week from today when they travel to Albuquerque, N.M., to take part in the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate Tournament, hosted by the University of New Mexico. The tournament will be held at the Championship Golf Course at UNM, a course that from the tips plays 7,324 yards long.

Since the Utes can only bring five players to the tournament, the team started qualifying Wednesday and will play four qualifying rounds at local courses such as Wingpointe and the Salt Lake Country Club. After the four rounds, the players with the five best scores will travel to New Mexico.

Expected to lead the Utes all season will be a group of experienced juniors that includes Arizona natives Derek Adams and Chase Hite, as well as locals Jeff Kitches and Mike Branca. But just because the four juniors are the most experienced doesn’t mean they will always travel.

“While I expect those guys to lead us on and off the golf course, that doesn’t mean they will all travel to every tournament,” McCracken said. “I have some sophomores who are really good players and a freshman who will compete for a spot all season long.”

Something the Utes are doing differently this season is taking tournament play into account before qualifying for the following tournament.

“We’re not going to travel with the same five players every tournament, as we have in past years,” McCracken said. “We’re going to have a lot of different lineups. As the year goes on, you will see guys who solidify their spots, but they will have to earn it first.”

The Utes will wrap up qualifying early next week and make final preparations before leaving for New Mexico on Friday.

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