By Sye Bennefield
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
The University of the Incarnate Word’s men’s and women’s golf teams expect to take conference this season, and nothing less, Head Coach Brad Martin believes.
The women’s team began playing this week at the Jack Brown Memorial Tournament at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. Led by sophomore Jaimie Bibby of Corpus Christi, the Lady Cardinals hope to get off on a great start this season.
Martin said, “Bibby is probably my No. 1. She’s a very solid player. While the rest of the girls are working really hard and doing actually a little much better than they did last fall. We’ll see how well they’ll play. It just depends on what kind of conditions we get.”
The men’s team will see its first action Feb. 16 at the Oklahoma Christian Invitational, which will be held at TPC San Antonio. Based on their upcoming schedule, which features three invitationals and a tournament hosted by UIW at The Republic Golf Course, 4226 Southeast Military Drive, Martin expects to see some wins.
“I think we can win our tournament, St. Mary’s Invitational and probably either Oklahoma Christian Invitational or the Redhawk Invitational,” said Martin. The Redhawk Invitational is being held at Seattle (Wash.) University in Washington. The men will play on Chambers Bay which will be hosting the U.S. Open Championship June 15-21.
Martin said if his team can keep the ball in the fairway they have chance to come out on top.
“If we don’t keep it in the fairway, nobody has a chance, especially with it being 3 to 4 to 5 inches tall in preparation for the U.S. Open,” Martin said.
The UIW men’s and women’s golf teams hope to do their best to win the Southland Conference this year. Both teams are coming off ninth-place finishes at the 2014 Southland golf championships.
The men played at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club where Martin thinks his players have taken great strides in learning how to attack the course. The Cardinals passed up one team and nearly two on the final day of that tournament and hope to continue their hot hand this April.
The women played at High Meadow Ranch Golf Club. Then-freshman Bibby, a psychology major, finished with the team’s low round of the tournament with a 75 and finished with a 240 total for 33rd place.
“(Bibby) has all the potential in the world,” Martin said. ”We just really got to get her healthy and going. She’s just a great player.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams were hard at work on The Republic Golf Course, where last December UIW broke ground for the H-E-B School of Business & Administration’s new Professional Golf Management facility.
The facility will feature modern-day classrooms, offices, new state-of-the-art training facilities for UIW’s golf teams, and specially designed hitting bays for recording purposes.
“The people at Foresight Golf who manage the golf course and own it, have been great,” Martin said. “Dan Pedrotti Jr. and Ed Miller, who are the president and CEO, have really just bent over backwards and have done great for us.”
All incoming and non-graduating players will now have a new place to call home for the start of the 2015-16 campaign. Unfortunately, standout players such as senior Austin Jordan, a business administration major from Rainbow, Texas, won’t get a chance to use the new facilities as a member of the Cardinals.
“Yeah, people like A.J. are leaving,” Martin said. “They’re missing it by one year, but it’s nice having a golf course you can call home.”