For the first time since 2005, the IU men’s golf team is headed to play in Puerto Rico.
The Hoosiers will be one of 13 teams at the Dorado Beach Collegiate in Dorado, Puerto Rico. The tournament, which features the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as the home team, will start on Sunday and run through Tuesday.
IU head coach Mike Mayer said the team’s practice rounds have been strong, and the team is ready to go to Puerto Rico.
The Hoosiers have been preparing for the tournament at the Pfau Course at IU. Mayer said the team managed to play three rounds of practice at the team’s home course this past weekend despite fighting cold weather and wind.
“The conditions weren’t perfect, but we made the best of it and got some really good numbers,” Mayer said.
Mayer said the team also traveled to Naples, Florida, to practice in warmer weather on a course similar to what it will see in Dorado.
Mayer said he wants to see a top-10 performance from one of his players this weekend for his team to do well.
“If we get that kind of performance, and it doesn’t matter from who, we will be right in there,” Mayer said.
IU’s lineup will include the same first four players they had at the Big Ten Match Play — sophomore Mitch Davis, junior Ethan Shepard, senior Brock Ochsenreiter and graduate Jack Sparrow.
The fifth spot will go to junior Tate Heintzelman, who qualified to be in the lineup for the first time after winning the practice rounds at Pfau.
“We’re looking for him to continue the play he’s been having,” Mayer said. “He needs to take his swagger down to Puerto Rico. Hopefully that’s contagious.”
Mayer said he believes the tournament has a good but beatable range of teams. The field includes No. 5 University of Notre Dame and No. 20 University of Louisville, but Mayer said IU matches up well with most teams. IU defeated UNCG in the Crooked Stick Invitational on Oct.15.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for us to get some wins and improve our rank,” Mayer said.
When IU played in Puerto Rico in 2005, the team finished the tournament tied for fourth out of nine teams with the University of Southern Mississippi.
The tournament will also include two Big Ten teams Rutgers and Michigan State.
Mayer said his team is riding the momentum coming off a solid showing at the Big Ten Match Play. The Hoosiers beat Rutgers in their match on Feb. 8.
Mayer said the team will fly to Puerto Rico early Friday afternoon so the players can recover from the travel before they play a practice round Saturday. Mayer said the team should have free time Saturday to enjoy Puerto Rico and the beach.
“Maybe they simply jump in the water a little bit, but obviously our main goal and only goal is to go down there and win that tournament,” Mayer said.