UTEP menâ€™s golf head coach Scott Lieberwirth announced the 2017-18 slate. Lieberwirth will be entering his seventh season at the helm of the program.
The Miners will begin their pursuit to defend the four tournament titles won last season, including the 2017 Conference USA Championship, when play begins in September. The team is set to tee up on 12 different courses around the country during regular season play. Five tournaments make up the fall schedule and six more contests make up the spring portion of play before postseason begins in April at the Conference USA Championships in Texarkana, Ar.
“I never like to come into the season with too many expectations,” Lieberwirth said. “We’re trying to build this team to be able to be a contender for the conference championship and getting into the NCAA postseason for this year. We loved the success we had last year, but with this being a new year, we have to refocus and rebuild ourselves to be a championship contending team.”
A return to Colorado Springs, Colo. to tee off at the Gene Miranda Invitational on Sept. 8-10 will start the season. The defending champion Miners will meet with host Air Force and other teams to be announced at the Eisenhower â€śBlueâ€ť Golf Course. After a week intermission, the team will return to action to compete in the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate (Sept. 22-23) in Albuquerque, N.M. and follow that with the Marquette Intercollegiate at the Erin Hills Golf Course in Milwaukee, WI on Oct. 1-3. The Marquette Intercollegiate is one of two new tournaments added to the UTEP schedule that the team has not played in.
“We have a good schedule, we’re going to Marquette and that field is extremely strong, one of the strongest we’ll play all year actually,” Lieberwirth said. “That’s going to be a great challenge, it’s [Marquette Intercollegiate] on the same golf course where they just held the US Open last month, at Erin Hills [golf course] in Wisconsin. I know our guys are definitely excited for that.”
UTEP will return to the Southwest to compete in the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate Oct. 16-17 in Las Cruces, N.M. before they prep to defend their title at the Price’s “Give ‘Em Five” Invitational, their home tournament, Oct. 20-22 at the Butterfield Trail Golf Course.
The spring season will kick start Jan. 29-30 with the Arizona Intercollegiate in Tucson, Ariz., then the UTEP squad will head to Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii for the John Burns Intercollegiate Feb. 15-17. Another trip to Tucson will be fashioned as the Miners will compete National Invitational Tournament Feb. 26-27 to close out the month.
An inaugural appearance at the Bandon Dunes Championship in Bandon, Ore. will begin March 11-13, hosted Gonzaga.
“That’s our only other new tournament that we added this year,” Lieberwirth said. “There’s four or five, different golf courses out in Bandon, Oregon, but they’re regarded as some of the best golf courses in the United States, especially for the link style golf which we don’t see much in the U.S. That’s another tournament that I know our guys are extremely excited about going to.”
The Lone Star Invitational in San Antonio, Texas, will run March 19-20 and the Miners will round out the regular season with the prestigious Western Intercollegiate April 7-8 in Santa Cruz, Calif. The team will then prepare to defend their title at the Conference USA Championships in Arkansas beginning April 22.
“It’s a different team than last year,” Lieberwirth said. “We did some wonderful things from a program perspective, things that we haven’t done in a long time and we want to use that momentum.”
Though they lost their top player, Frederik Dreier, to graduation, the Miners will return three of the five starters from last season’s championship team in seniors Charles Corner and Nicklas Pihl, and junior Aaron Terrazas. Andreas Sorensen has opted to turn professional. The team will also look to senior Prescott Mann, who enjoyed success in eight tournaments during his junior season, to help lead in the line up. Freshman and El Paso native Greg Yellin is expected to prosper as well.
“We have the four upperclassmen who are going to be our stalwarts in our line-up that we know we’re going to have to depend on and they’re going to have to give us solid play,” Lieberwirth said. “I think we have a solid nucleus within those four. Now, after that, we’re going to need someone thats younger and doesn’t have quite the experience to step up and fill that role.
“I would assume this fall we’re going to have numerous players get some action. We have a bunch of younger players that are less experienced but also quite talented that we’re going to have to rely on for help. If we do get some positive play out of these younger players, we could be contending to win and be highly competitive early on.”
Lieberwirth said continuous improvement will be key to keep building the program’s success.
“The biggest thing I don’t want to see is us getting complacent just because we won last year and enjoyed a lot of success,” he said. “There’s no correlation between last year’s success and this year’s, we have to earn it, we have to put in the time and effort that we did and have been doing the past few years and do it again. That process never ends.”
2017-18 Team Schedule