This season has been a roller coaster for the UC Irvine Men’s Golf team.
Ending the season with a disappointing eighth-place finish in
the Big West Championships,
the conclusion of the
Anteaters’ season remains unknown.
As the reigning Big West champions for the past three seasons, finishing eighth was a huge upset that no one expected.
‘We were supposed to win [the Big West],’ said sophomore Jay Choe.
‘We just didn’t show up for the Big West. This season has been hit or miss for us,’ said senior Vinny Poncino.
‘It’s been an interesting year since three of our seniors graduated last year. We’ve been pretty inconsistent,’ said Head Coach Paul Smolinski. ‘We show signs that we can play at a high level and that we are capable of doing it.’
Back in September, the Anteaters started the season strong with the title at the Northwest Collegiate Corvallis, the second tournament of the season. The Anteaters were victorious by 15 strokes at 18-under 846.
In addition to the victory in Oregon, the Anteaters finished fourth at the U.S. Intercollegiate Tournament at Stanford, beating Stanford on their home turf as well as Texas, also ranked in the top-10.
‘Any time you play a team like Stanford on their home golf course and beat them, it’s a pretty good thing. Texas is ranked top 10 in the country so anytime you beat a team that’s ranked top 10, it makes you feel good about what you’re doing,’ Smolinski said.
Both victories at Oregon and Stanford highlight the potential that the men’s golf team holds.
However, experience and inconsistency hindered the Anteaters’ ability to add a fourth Big West Championship to their accomplishments.
‘Inconsistency has been a big obstacle for us we haven’t overcome yet. We’re showing signs we can win and we can do it. At least we know that we’re capable of [winning],’ Smolinski said.
The disappointment looms, however. With three Big West titles under their belts, the Anteaters were expected to capture their fourth consecutive title.
‘We were seeded number one in the Big West. The turnout was disappointing for the team,’ Choe said.
‘After we won in Oregon, it
was downhill from there. It is
hard to tell if we were going to
NCAA Regionals because the season has been so erratic. It was a little
disappointing because I had hopes that we would win Big West for
the fourth time,’ Poncino said.