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Bulldogs take a shot for WAC Tournament

April 27, 2012

 

DEREK AMAYA
Sports Editor

 

Louisiana Tech’s men’s golf team will travel to Henderson, Nev., to play in the 2012 Western Athletic Conference tournament April 30 through May 2 in the Rio Secco Golf Club.

 

Head coach Jeff Parks and his Bulldogs, who are ranked 71St nationally (subject to change), are eyeing the first place prize of an automatic bid to NCAA Regionals, which is awarded to the winner of the WAC Tournament.

 

“What we’ve done up into this point is what’s going to continue to get us the win at conference,” Parks said. “It will be as normal as I can make it will be the better. Making it in some big event will add more pressure in the event. It’s just another golf tournament.”

 

The Bulldogs, who tied for fourth in last year’s event, have never won the tournament, but a shot toplay in the NCAA Regionals has kept the team motivated.

 

Automatic bids are awarded to all 28 conference tournament winners; however, 12 of those winners are not even ranked in the top 81. The participant number is then knocked down to 69 non-conference winners, which makes the Bulldogs a bubble team, according to golfstat.com.

 

“They all have their own specific goals and we also have team goals,” Parks said. “This is what we have been preparing for all season. The team we’re going to have to beat is San Jose State. New Mexico State and Nevada are also other teams that will be on top of the leader board.”

 

Redshirt senior Cody Blankenship, who was unable to participate in last year’s tournament due to an injury, looks to continue his consistent play into the tournament.

 

“I think getting to back this year and play instead of being on the sidelines injured is going to be a whole different experience,” Blankenship said. “That’s what makes it so exciting is I can’t wait to get down there and actually be a part of the team this time.”

 

Sophomore Travis Wilmore looks to continue his momentum from the Memphis Intercollegiate, where he finished second to Kennesaw State’s Ben Green, who won the event.

 

“All of our tournaments seem to come down to one or two shots,” Wilmore said. “If we can just eliminate those two big numbers, we can move up to or three spots in the tournament.”

 

Coach Parks has been preaching to the team during practice that they need to continue to minimize mistakes and Blankenship said he thinks everybody is ready to take on the challenge.

 

“If you expect to be there and be ready than you’re going to be fine,” Blankenship said. “I think everybody gets a little nervous when it’s this stage getting into the postseason. You got to realize it’s time to play.”

 

Rio Secco Golf Club is Butch Harmon’s first teaching facility and is much a target course, which means missing the fairway lands the ball into rocky boulders that are hard to get out of.

 

Senior Cody Santone is one of the few to have played on the course and said the course is a difficult one due to Mother Nature’s forces.

 

“If you miss the fairway, you’re in the rocks,” Santone said. “It’s always super windy every time we go. You really have to stay focus on every shot because if one goes into the rocks, you can add up a few.”

 

The Bulldogs said they would stay motivated with their routine playlist of Drake, Mac Miller and European music to keep them pumped and win in this year’s tournament.

 

“So far the season has been good and our goal is to always continue to improve,” Parks said. “We got perform and relax and enjoy the process. We know why we’re going out there and that is to win conference.”

 

For more information on men’s golf and other sports follow our twitter page at www.twitter.com/techtalksportsdesk.

 

Email comments to dja014@latech.edu.

 

 

 

 

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