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Men's golf looks forward to a new year

Hofstra men’s golf coach Joe Elliot sounded enthusiastic when asked about his team’s ability this year, and for good reason. It does appear that this team is better than any team in the past, and Elliot would seem to agree.

“[It’s] probably the best season we’re going to have,” the experienced head coach, in his sixth season with the Pride, said. “There’s a ton of young talent and it’s really coming together.”

Most of the players on the team have plenty of experience on the links for the Pride. Seniors Jake Winn and Paul Bruckner are hoping for breakthrough seasons in their final year. There are a number of juniors, from Jonathan Farber, David Mecca, Brandon Shin, and Luke Smith. There is only one freshman, David Won.

The team has a great combination of veteran experience and freshmen competence. They’ve performed well in two tournaments early on, tying for fifth place in a field of 12 during the Blue Devil Invitational and earning fourth place in a field of 17 at the Rutgers Invitational.

Junior David Mecca and freshman David Won have had plenty of success in the young season, and junior Brandon Shin has anchored the team with his steady performance.

Mecca was one of the strongest performers on last year’s Pride team, known for his long drives and steady play.  Shin has shown plenty of talent, and is able to piece together great rounds of golf that can help carry the team to better finishes.

Elliot must be credited for his work in recruiting a diverse group of players. This year’s team hails from a host of states, including Georgia, California, and Massachusetts.

Last year’s golf team showed improvement and potential, but also struggled at points, with some streaky spots serving as moments of frustration. The squad placed very well in some tournaments and floundered in others, and a string of consistent performances was rare.

The team concluded last year in disappointing fashion, faltering in the conference championship tournament.

This year, Elliot feels, will be different.

“I’ve seen big things from these kids. It’s going to be a solid year. They’ve all got great swings. They come to Hofstra with the game already included. It’s a mindset thing. I’m here to help them work on the mental aspect,” said Elliot.

The head coach has always been focused on the hidden part of the golf game: what goes on in a player’s mind. He often speaks about focus and staying calm on the course, telling his players to pace out their game and not get too frustrated.

Based on their performance, it would appear his players are listening to Elliot’s advice.

The coach seemed especially excited about Won, who has been putting up noticeably low scores. He tied for ninth in the Blue Devil Invitational and tied for 12th in the Rutgers Invitational.

“David Won came right in and was leading [the Rutgers Invitational] for a while. I see huge things out of him,” Elliot said.

The team is also notable, Elliot said, because there is a higher level of competition surrounding tournament time between Hofstra players.

“There’s a lot of competition among the team. You can’t play poorly or you won’t travel,” said Elliot.

Because of the caliber of the group as a whole, the pressure to perform in tournaments is intense. So far, however, the team has been up to the challenge.

The team opened the year well after shooting a +30 as a team during the Blue Devil Invitational, good for 14 shots behind tournament winner Bryant. A score of +25 through three rounds marked improvement on the Rutgers Invitational, especially against such strong competition. USC Upstate won the tournament with a +3 as a team.

Regardless of who is on the course, Coach Elliot is eager to see how his players perform.

“This year, I’m excited for every tournament,” he said.

The men’s golf team plays again at the Hofstra Hawk Invitational in Connecticut on this coming Monday and Tuesday.

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