The ACU golf team will be back in action on Monday in Huntsville.
The team will compete in the Harold Funston Invitation hosted by Sam Houston State University at the Raven Nest Golf Club. Last year, the Wildcats grabbed second place at the tournament, and Corbin Renner, senior from Little Rock, Arkansas, was third overall.
But head coach Tom Shaw does not care about last year.
“First tee shot on Monday, we have to hit that shot and move on to the next shot, and then we will add them all up in the end,” Shaw said. “I think if we start letting last year determine what we should do this year, it would put expectations on us that could be unhealthy.”
It has been two weeks since the team last competed. Rough conditions and a difficult course resulted in a disappointing outcome in unfamiliar Fort Collins, Colorado, course, but qualifying has sharpened their focus.
“There are fewer new elements to affect them,” Shaw said. “I think our guys are ready to play well.”
Shaw has yet to decide on the five players that will travel and compete in Huntsville, though the list is taking shape. Renner is exempt from the qualifying process after his 11th place finish in Colorado. Still, the other four spots are up for grabs.
With three qualifying rounds to play, Dillon Vaughn, junior from Joshua, and Robert Johnson, sophomore from Helensburgh, Scotland, sit in a strong position to make the team. Johnson fired an impressive 64 in the first round of qualifying and has been playing par golf since.
The rest of the team is in a battle for the final two spots.
“We all want to go, but at the end of the day, only five do,” said Kyle Karnei, a sophomore from Waco. “The tough competition to qualify for these tournaments only makes us better for when we do get to go.”
The Harold Funston features eight men’s teams, most of which are in the Southland Conference. Incarnate Word, Murray State, Oral Roberts, Stephen F. Austin, Tyler Junior College and West Texas College will join ACU and Sam Houston State.
Sam Houston has won the tournament for the past three years and will likely be the team to beat in the Southland.
“If we could hang with them, then that says something,” Shaw said. “This will give a little bit of a benchmark on where we need to go.”