GREAT RIO VALLEY – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Men’s Vaqueros Golf Team learned a lot from its fall season and is excited to finally kick off the 2022 spring season as it looks to continue growing.
“I’m excited. I have a core of new players and they will gain experience and come out to see what it’s all about,” the UTRGV head coach said. Philip Tate noted. “We’re going to grow so it should be exciting this spring.”
The fall didn’t quite go to plan for the Vaqueros, but saw some good signs in the final tournament at the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate. After posting 13and14andand 11and place, the Vaqueros posted a third-place finish to end the fall on a high.
The Vaqueros have proven they can compete with their third-place finish and the plan is to show more of that competitiveness in the spring.
“I think it was sporadic and a bit inconsistent,” Tate said. “We finished strong which proved what we had in the tank. I think we can replicate that more in the spring than in the fall.”
The Vaqueros head into the spring season with a roster that features just one upperclassman in Tennoshin Ogawa. With Ogawa, Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi and Leonard Novella are the only ones to have college experience outside of the fall season.
The learning curve will vary for Vaqueros as the fall season proved, but the key for spring will be staying consistent.
“It could go either way,” Tate said. “I think the fall proved that. It showed that we were capable of really good times but we were capable of really inconsistent times. We really have to focus on consistency and playing like we should be playing every day.”
Over the past few seasons, the Vaqueros had grown accustomed to having experience throughout their roster. Spring will provide opportunities for the young group to grow on all levels.
Growth opportunities will help strengthen the program for the next few years.
“I want them to be as big and strong as possible,” Tate said. “Go to the gym and do the work. Mentally, I want them to become a team. We had guys here for five or six years and we were graduate students. This is the first chance for some of these guys to come out here and really play and be part of the team.”
Of course, this growth began in the fall when Juan Luis de Bethencourt Duque, Sebastien Lundbergand Taj Sutherland debuted in UTRGV. They all got a taste of the expectations for the program.
They will now head into the spring knowing what needs to be done to help Vaqueros compete at a high level.
“I think they took away that there’s a certain level of scoring that you have to aim for to be competitive at that level,” Tate said. “I think they learned that in New Mexico and they saw it in some of the previous tournaments. They saw what really works and gets the job done and what doesn’t.”
The Vaqueros will begin their spring at the Colin Montgomerie Invitational, hosted by Houston Baptist University, on March 7. The Vaqueros know the tournament very well having won it two consecutive seasons.
The Vaqueros would love to triple at Colin Montgomerie, but know that winning an event is always tough because the pelotons are always tough.
The UTRGV will then compete in the GCU Invitational before hosting the Big Texan Invitational again at Comanche Trace in Kerrville.
They will also compete in the Chambers Bay Invitational in Seattle, Washington, and then wrap up the season at Bayou City Collegiate at Lake Conroe Golf Club.
Every area will be difficult and every course will present challenges. Each tournament will allow the Vaqueros to grow.
“We have a lot of tough golf courses and tough terrain ahead of us,” Tate said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for these guys to see what they’re made of, to test themselves and become better players in the long run.”
Usually, the Vaqueros start their season in February, but for coach Tate, it made sense to wait until March to start it.
The itch to get back there to compete must have lingered a bit longer for the Vaqueros, but with the season so close to starting, that first round can’t come soon enough.
“I’m excited. Let’s go,” Tate said. “I can’t pack my bags fast enough. Let’s go and see what we’re made of.”
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