Bowling Green, Ky. (WBKO) --- After perhaps the program’s most successful regular season in more than a decade, WKU Hilltopper Golf will try to put it all together this week at the 2019 Air Force Reserve Conference USA Men’s Golf Championship.
The Hilltoppers will be seeded third among 13 teams this week at the par-72, 6,935-yard Texarkana Country Club in Texarkana, Ark.
Teams will play 18 holes of stroke play each day Monday through Wednesday. The top four teams then head into match play Thursday, completing the semifinals and finals in the same day.
“We’ve got a lot of good senior leadership on the team,” WKU head coach Chan Metts said. “We’ve got a lot of experience on this course. I think one of the biggest things is always managing expectations. Especially with the older guys, there are so many emotions involved in this event. Sometimes guys feel like it might be their last event. You never know what’s coming after that, so it’s really just making sure that we’re going into this event and treating it just like every other event.
“It’s just a golf tournament. We’re going to take it one shot at a time, and we’re going to be just as committed and focused every shot.”
The Hilltoppers are ranked the highest they’ve been in the Golfstat Top 100 in years at No. 87, trailing only No. 77 UAB and No. 84 UTSA out of C-USA.
After finishing under par as a team in 3 of 34 events from 2015-18, WKU has done so in 5 of 9 tournaments this season.
WKU also had five top-four team finishes this year and two individual victories from redshirt senior Billy Tom Sargent.
“We’ve had a good year,” senior Stuart Easton said. “We’ve all had some really good results, and all it’s going to take is to just have that week where we all play well and put it together in the same week. We’re so close to that, and I think it’s going to show this week.”
Sargent, Easton, redshirt junior Linus Lo, junior Tom Bevington, redshirt freshman Dawson McDaniel and freshman Dominic Brettkelly will represent WKU this week.
Because of an NCAA rule change, men’s teams are allowed to bring six players to conference tournaments this year, although they will still play five and count four. During any round, including match play, a team may substitute a sixth player for any member of the team provided that they provide notification at least 10 minutes prior to that member’s starting time.
Four of WKU’s six traveling players have notched at least one top-10 result this season, while five of the six have recorded at least one round of 68 or better.
The key this week will be getting everyone to click at the same time, and the Hilltoppers agreed that’s mostly about sticking to the same process they use all year long.
“We just have to control our nerves,” Lo said. “Conference is where everyone gets really nervous because it starts to really matter, and we just have to stay patient and let it happen.”
WKU will begin teeing off at 8:40 a.m. CT Monday in the first round.