IU men’s golf is entering its final tournament of the fall season this weekend as they travel to the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic in Maui, Hawaii. The team is looking to finish the season on a strong note, but they’re also making sure to enjoy the time they get in the Aloha State.
“I can’t wait First time, should be a fun trip," junior Keegan Vea said. "I’m looking forward to it."
IU Coach Mike Mayer said he wants to make sure the team is able to enjoy the trip while keeping their focus on the task at hand.
“It’s a special trip,” Mayer said. “I like to give these guys that opportunity when I can do that, to have a special trip. We’ll probably in some ways be a little more lax than normal this event, but at the same time, we’re going there for one reason and one reason only — and that’s to compete and try to win this tournament.”
The Hoosiers are coming off two tournaments that didn’t go as well as they had hoped. Mayer said they are hoping to put that behind them in Maui and head into the offseason on a high note.
“We need a good tournament where we have four, five guys playing well each round so we can get some numbers posted and get some momentum going into the offseason,” Vea said. “It’s bound to happen eventually because everyone’s game is really close, everyone has been working hard, so we’re just ready to see it all pay off.”
Mayer, as he also said after the tournaments at Crooked Stick and Quail Valley, expressed the need for someone on the team to step up as a leader.
“We’re still looking for what we were looking for to start the fall off — and that’s a go-to guy, a guy we’re ready to count on every single round,” Mayer said. “We’ve had some glimpses from some players, Jake Brown and Andrew Havill a couple times, and Max (Kollin) and (Brendon) Doyle and Keegan. But we need that special guy to step up, and this is another opportunity for these guys to step up.”
Kollin, the only senior on the team, said he feels he should bear the responsibility to step up. He said performing to the best of his ability in the tournament this weekend — and the rest of the season’s tournaments — sets the tone for the rest of the team.
“I think part of being a senior is going out and posting good scores and setting the example as far as how to play the golf course and how to get around and have the right mentality to not negatively affect anyone else on the team,” Kollin said.
In addition to needing someone on the team to be a go-to guy, the Hoosiers have struggled to get off to good starts, which has put them in deep holes. That has been an emphasis in practices of late, Vea said.
He said the team has to respond positively to bad holes, even if it means getting off to a bad start.
“You can’t win the golf tournament in the first round, but you can definitely lose it,” Vea said. “We’ve just got to keep our minds focused, grind it out and get ourselves in position to compete on the last day.”
IU will be the only team from the Big Ten competing at Ka’anapali. Despite that, Mayer had nothing but good things to say about the rest of the tournament field.
“It’s a great field, there’s some great teams — Georgia, North Carolina State and a lot of really, really solid teams that’ll give us the chance to see if we’ve improved this fall, see if we’ve made some strides and some steps,” Mayer said.