The Blue Hens men’s golf team is set to tee off the 2017 spring season this weekend at the 40th Annual Kingsmill Intercollegiate in Williamsburg, Va. The three-day contest is held at Kingsmill Country club and will run from Sunday, March 19 through Tuesday, March 21.
The Hens will be contested in the tournament by over a dozen other schools from all over the country, including Penn State, Tennessee, Old Dominion and William & Mary. Three of the schools in the field are ranked in the top 100 nationally: Penn State at 56, Tennessee at 65 and Eastern Kentucky at 91.
The Review recently spoke with Michael Keogh, the head coach of the Blue Hen’s men’s golf entering his 16th season at the team’s helm.
Kyle Doherty: What are you expecting from the team in their first competition of the season?
Michael Keogh: Obviously a win would be a fantastic start, but a top 3-5 finish would be a great springboard for the spring season. There are three teams in the top 100 in the field, and Penn State is close to Top 50 (56). A number of teams are from the south, so they have more rounds under their belts than we do. But, we have our leading lowest fall scorer, senior co-captain Marc Oliveri, and three seasoned juniors, Jack Gianniny, Blaine Lafferty and Kieran Purcell, poised to show their upperclassmen leadership. Sophomore Mark Benevento played a lot last fall for us, so we have a lineup that has experience, and that produced our lowest one-half year team scoring average with a 288. We count four scores out of five, so we averaged 72 per man last fall in the five tournaments we played.
KD: What aspects of the competition pose the largest challenge for the team?
MK: We were able to get outside some in February and March, so that is a good thing. This week is supposed to be snowy and cold, so we probably won’t get outside. But, we are fortunate to have access to the Delaware Field House and the Golf Room in the Little Bob to hit balls in order to stay loose for the tournament. We have hearty Hens on our team and they never complain about the weather. They are tough and ready to adapt to what weather the golf gods throw at us.
KD: What is one thing the team can do well at this tournament that they can build on for the rest of the season?
MK: Lag putt well. Short game areas have not opened up north yet, so we haven’t really chipped and putted that much. If the guys really concentrate on getting long, first putts close for tap-ins, we will not have that many 3-putts, and that will help our bottom line score a lot. Putting is basically everything. They all hit it exceptionally well. Rarely do they knock it out of bounds or in lakes. Usually, at this level, the team that puts the best wins.
Senior Marc Oliveri will try to keep up his strong play in the Kingsmill after posting a team-best 72.00 average round in the fall. Junior Jack Gianniny will also be a major part of the Hens’ success, as he looks to build on his team-leading three top-ten finishes in the fall. Weather conditions may play a factor at the Kingsmill, as falling temperatures and inclement weather are expected across the Mid-Atlantic this week.