Flying a kite, sailing a boat and displaying a flag — they all benefit from strong winds.
However, wind has done nothing but hinder the efforts of the UC Davis men’s golf team in the spring portion of its 2012-13 season. The first two spring tournaments had the Aggies battling the elements to a finish in 16th and 11th place.
But no one said it would be a breeze for the UCD squad to claim a third consecutive Big West title this season.
Aggie head coach Cy Williams said improving control during gusty weather is going to be key for the local men going forward.
“It’s the one factor that raises scores more than anything,” he explained. “Wind can be really hard to deal with. That being said, we can get a whole lot better at it. I do think that we saw some good individual performances.”
Senior Tyler Raber, a Davis High graduate, has been a standout during the spring schedule, which began after a competitive slate of fall tournaments. UCD placed in the top 10 in three of those four events to earn a national ranking of 50th.
In the first test of spring — the 23rd annual Amer-Ari in Hawaii — Raber joined junior Matt Hansen in the upper echelon of placings among a field of nationally ranked opponents. Both Aggies shot 1-over 73′s on the final day of the tournament to finish in the top 60.
Raber’s performance was especially convincing at The Prestige at the Greg Norman Course (PGA West) last week in La Quinta. The former Blue Devil standout finished tied for 15th at 2-over par. Junior Matt Seramin came in 12 positions below Raber after scoring three straight birdies his final round.
The Prestige, an event UCD has co-hosted with Stanford for the past 13 years, featured three teams ranked in the top 10 and seven in the top 50. The previous tournament at Hawaii boasted more than half of its competing squads in the top 50.
“The bottom line is the last two tournaments are two of the best fields in college golf,” Williams said. “Hawaii is the second-strongest field in college golf and The Prestige in the ninth strongest. We’re playing against monster teams.”
Regardless of the difficulty, the Aggies left the tournaments disappointed with the result.
“Honestly, we didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked,” Raber said. “But there’s plenty of golf left in the spring, so as soon as we get everyone back on track, we should be good.”
UCD has another week of preparation before the March 8 Bandon Dunes Championship in Oregon. The course will offer the local men an opportunity to see one of the world’s premier golf destinations, Williams said.
A veteran leader of the Aggies, Raber has some insight to offer his peers. His familiarity with Bandon Dunes has taught him that weather will once more be a factor in the coming tournament.
“From the couple of times I’ve been there, I know it can get really windy,” he said. “The weather can get really unpredictable. For the next couple of weeks, the important thing will be practicing shots in the wind. Hitting the ball lower, and controlling its flight.”
After next weekend’s event, there will be three tournaments remaining in the 2013 campaign before UCD travels to San Jacinto for the Big West Championships.
Williams said he’s confident in the ability of his Aggies to learn and recover from the last two tournaments in time to reclaim conference glory.
“The main thing is to evaluate yourself after every tournament,” he added. “Each one is like a midterm, and these guys take lots of those. Golf is the same way. Every time we play a tournament we’re picking a few things to study, to improve on.
“If we keep doing that, we’ll be ready for the (Big West) tournament in April.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052.