During the frigid temperatures of December and early January, the Seton Hall men’s golf team was faced with the difficult task of finding where to play 18 holes under comfortable conditions.
While sophomore Andres Acevedo and freshman Deven Ramachandran relished the opportunities of playing in Texas and the warm Bay Area breezes, other golfers decided to use the extended break to play as a group.
Senior Gen Nagai, who won the Phillipine Amateur Open over winter break, started the idea by inviting freshman Peter Tyler Po to practice with him in the area they both live in, Cebu City, Phillipines.
Chris Yeom, the only other senior on the roster, spoke volumes about the benefits of spending, basically, the entire break together.
“Gen and Peter were able to invite myself and two juniors in Alex Chalk and Alex McCauley, and we played basically every day,” said Yeom. “Our freshman Hunter [Ramee] went down to Florida for a bit and Gregor was back with his coach in the UK. We all had the same motive for trying to grind and we all had the same goal in the end, not a single person is left out.”
Sophomore Gregor Tait, who secured his first college win last fall in the UNCG/Martins Down Collegiate, did not attend but continued training with focus overseas in the UK. Seton Hall will, coincidentally, play UNC Greensboro again next week.
“I think every tournament we got to – we are always looking at how they break their process down – the best thing about golf is that you can see what all five players did on every single hole,” said Tait. “Teams that have a clear structure have scores on holes that matchup very well as opposed to a team without structure that may get a double [bogey], bogey or par. The best thing is that we know we have the ability to execute, now we just have to pick the right things or ways to do it.”
Entering his 15th season as men’s golf coach, Clay White emphasized the importance of the two seniors setting an example for the new wave as well as arranging an event that built the team’s chemistry.
“I try not to use the word ‘expectation’, because, for me, it suggests that you expect to do it,” said White. “Obviously, every year we want to compete in the Big East and have an opportunity to compete, not just say we competed against Marquette or Butler or Georgetown – who’s won in the past. This season is all about preparing ourselves so that we can get good results and not just talk about what we can do.”
Two the most Pirates’ decorated golfers, world-recognized Nagai and Yeom, dreaded the idea of replacing Lloyd Jefferson Go when they were underclassmen. As a junior, Yeom carried the weht of replacing an icon, but his shoulders never slouched. Now as a senior, Yeom is a clear leader among the Pirate golfers, imparting wisdom on Seton Hall’s underclassmen.
Now back at school, Coach White realizes that although the temperatures are not ideal, the Pirates must capitalize on when they can play, and take the season one match at a time.
“We play then get a week off, we think about, will we get outside or will we not? A lot of what we do is very dependent on weather,” said White. “It was 5 degrees last week and it will be 50 this week, preparation is a bit tricky. We talked about it in the fall as well, we just want to make the most of this season for Gen and Chris and send those guys out on a good note.”
One of the main points of emphasis for the men’s golf this season was to boost the abilities of all golfers and not just rely on the top guys like Nagai and Yeom, who were members of the 2016-17 team that finished 2nd in the Big East Championship.
“We don’t see it as how good can our Top-5 be,” said Tait. “If your ninth man is just as good as your fifth man, that is just going to keep pushing everybody within our bigger roster compared to last year. If you go home, just watch movies and not work, you will lose your position on the team. We’ve adopted the mindset of ‘if you’re not doing it, someone else is’.”
Evando Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Thompsev.