April 10, 2013
|67th Western Intercollegiate presented by Transamerica/WFG
Sat.-Sun., April 13-14 | Live Scoring
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|Team Info: Schedule | Roster | News | Record Book | Stats|
|Rankings: Golfweek - Teams | Individuals; Golfstat - Teams | Individuals|
SEATTLE -- As the Huskies men's golf team prepares for the upcoming 67th Western Intercollegiate - the final tune up before the 2013 Pac-12 Championship - Coach Matt Thurmond is ready to unleash his new secret weapon to the world.
Well, the cat is kind of already out of the bag.
Thurmond's latest hopeful that is trying to continue the long list of great names like Mackenzie, Lepp, Prugh, Taylor, Lee, Williams and Pan that have worn the Husky `W' across their chests is freshman Jonathan Sanders.
After a relatively benign fall, Sanders has solidified his spot in Washington's lineup with three top-10 finishes in five spring tournaments. In his latest foray on the course, Sanders tied for sixth at the Aggie Invitational, finishing only behind four of the top 20 players on the collegiate landscape and a fifth golfer ranked among the nation's top 100.
"He's really a good player," Thurmond said of Sanders. "He is getting better every day; adjusting to college life and the team environment.
"I think he is going to have a really strong finish to the year."
Thurmond is not the only one noticing Sanders' improved play. The first-year player from Chatsworth in Southern California has climbed to 67th in the Golfweek.com individual rankings. He still has some work to do in the Golfstat.com ratings which has him at 154th, but that is fine for the well-grounded Sanders who is still sharpening his game.
"I'm hitting it really solid," Sanders said about his improved play. "I didn't hit it too great this past week, but my misses were really good. I was able to make pars when I hit bad shots and when I hit good ones I was able to make putts for birdies."
It also helps that Sanders has the benefit of watching some of the greats in the college game up close. His teammates Chris Williams, Cheng-Tsung Pan and Trevor Simsby are all on the Hogan Watch list and Charlie Hughes is a finalist for the Byron Nelson Award. Being surrounded by great players has helped Sanders elevate his own game and also gives him great role models that have helped his transition from high school to college.
"Playing with Chris and Pan every day has helped a lot," Sanders said of his All-America teammates. "They have helped me understand and talked to me about my game and told me how good they think it is.
"It's really nice and re-assuring to hear someone who has been so successful give me some confidence and help me out a little."
Meanwhile, Sanders will try to keep things rolling this Saturday and Sunday in the Western Intercollegiate that boasts a field that features seven Pac-12 teams. He is hoping his own secret weapon - a burgeoning mustache - will continue to bring him some luck.
"Thurms (Matt Thurmond) kept joking about it, but I kept it and played well, so I think it's going to stay until at least I have a bad round," Sanders said.
The Huskies will need some luck and plenty of skill to navigate to the top of the leaderboard this week. No. 1 Cal is the highest Golfstat.com rated team in the field, with fellow top-10 squads Washington (3), UCLA (5) and Stanford (7) also among the participants.
Rounding out the 14-team field are Arizona State, Denver, Fresno State, Hawai'i, Oregon, San Diego State, host San Jose State, UC Irvine, USC (11) and UTEP.
Besides the No. 3 ranking in Golfstat.com, Washington checks in at sixth in the latest Golfweek.com poll.
Individually, Pan is the top-ranked Husky individual: 10th by Golfweek and 11th by Golfstat.com.
Williams checks in this week 20th on the Golfstat.com rankings and 15th in the Golfweek.com rankings.
Simsby is ranked 70th by Golfstat.com and 58th by Golfweek.
The competitors will navigate the 6,615-yard, par 70 Pasatiempo Golf Club, playing 36 holes of continuous golf on Saturday and 18 holes on Sunday. Both rounds will start with a shotgun start.
Live scoring will be available on Golfstat.com and nightly recaps will be posted on GoHuskies.com with insight from Husky Coach Matt<!> Thurmond.