COLLEGE GOLF: Odessa College ready to take aim at 10th national title

The Odessa College men’s golf team has put in all the necessary work.

Now it’s time to see if that work pays off with more hardware as the Wranglers compete in the 2019 NJCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship.

The first round gets underway Tuesday at Duran Golf Club in Melbourne, Fla.

Head coach Paul Chavez believes as strong as it has been all season.

“We have a few guys healthy now that weren’t earlier in the year,” Chavez said. “We’ve had some really good scoring in our practice rounds heading into this tournament. “If we can put it all together, I think we can make a run at it.”

The team of five that will try to bring the program’s 10th national championship back to the Permian Basin includes sophomores Bryce Waters, Blake Brothers and Tripp Wallace along with freshmen Marcus Wochner and Frederik Topgaard.

While Chavez has been pleased with the team’s progress throughout the season, he believes that there is opportunity for someone to step up and shoot a low score.

The low round of the year so far this season came from Topgaard, who shot a final-round 63 at the High Country Shootout in September, 2018, in Ruidoso, N.M.

“This group has been very consistent throughout the year,” Chavez said. “Hopefully, someone can get hot and get everyone pumped up.”

Chavez also believes that his team is battle tested from the competition it has faced this year. Odessa College is one of four schools from Western Junior College Athletic Conference represented at the national tournament this week.

Midland College and New Mexico Junior College made the tournament as automatic qualifiers while Western Texas College, like Odessa College, made it as an at-large selection.

“We play against a lot of great competition that helps you get ready to play in a tournament like this,” Chavez said. “Our conference is always strong from top to bottom and that should help us this week.”

Past performance isn’t always an indicator of future success but it could be something that the Wranglers can draw from.

At the national championship preview at the same venue back in October, the Wranglers finished as the runner-up behind host Eastern Florida State.

Four of the five golfers heading to the national tournament this week played in the preview tournament with Wallace finishing the best of the group, carding a 218 (73-71-74) total to finish in a tie for fourth place.

Wochner (75-76-70—221) finished in the Top 10.

“We felt pretty good after playing out there the first time,” Chavez said. “Pretty much everyone that’s going played well on that course. We’re looking forward to a great performance.” 

Chavez wants to see his group play well and handle the competition the best it can.

The Wranglers were able to do that two years ago in winning the title.

After finishing fourth last year, he sees a motivated group ready to make the most of its opportunity on the biggest stage.

“Our goal is to win a national championship every year,” Chavez said. “I’ve been fortunate that no matter how good or bad our regular season has gone, we seem to step up at the national tournament. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

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