FILE: “We found success last year, but this is a different team,” seventh-year head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “It’s the first tournament of the year, so you always want to get off on the right foot and get some positive momentum.” | Photo courtesy UTEP
The 2017 Conference USA Champion UTEP men’s golf team will defend its first of three tournament title at the 49th Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational this weekend, Sept. 8-10, in Colorado Springs, Co.
Tee time at the Eisenhower Golf Club Blue Course (par 72, 7,461 yards) is set for a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. (MT) on both Friday and Saturday and Sunday’s start is set for 7:30 a.m., with pairings and tee times determined by team scores.
“We found success last year, but this is a different team,” seventh-year head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “It’s the first tournament of the year, so you always want to get off on the right foot and get some positive momentum.”
Last year, the Miners were crowned co-champions of the Gene Miranda Invitational, sharing the title with UNLV, after both shot one under 863.
The Miners will be joined on the field by host Air Force, Abilene Christian, Colorado, Colorado State, Drake, George Washington, NM State, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, SIU-Edwardsville, Southern Utah, Texas State, UNLV, Utah State, Utah Valley State, Weber State and Wyoming.
“There’s defiantly some pride involved [after winning the title last year], but it’s a different format than the 36-18 format last year,” Lieberwith said. “The course is difficult to read, but the key to playing well is hitting your iron shots.”
Taking the course for the Miners will be Charles Corner, Nicklas Pihl, Aaron Terrazas, Prescott Mann, Sethavuth Paradee, and Ricardo Catalan, who will be playing as an individual.
Pihl and Mann will be returning to the Invite after placing tied for 19th and tied for 30th last year. Pihl shot 222 (72-75-75) and Mann carded 225 (73-76-76) to help the Miners to the title. Pihl was a staple in the UTEP line up last season, competing in 12 tournaments and finishing at the top of the Miner scorecard twice. The senior recorded a 74.0 stroke average and had his season-high finish at the National Invitational Tournament, where he placed in a tie for 11th with 211 (71-68-72).
Mann also put in work for the Miners last season, playing in eight tournaments and averaging 73.7 per stroke. The senior had a collegiate career-high finish when he took a share of third at the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational after shooting 206 (67-69-70).
Corner and Terrazas will be making their Gene Miranda debut, but both are skilled golfers who, along with Pihl, are returning from the 2017 C-USA championship team and the NCAA regional squad. In 12 tournaments played for the Miners in 2016, Corner recorded a 72.6 stroke average with a low round of 65 and was UTEP’s top finisher in three tournaments, including the stroke play portion of the conference championship and the NCAA Washington Regional.
Terrazas joined the Miners in January after transferring from Oklahoma and made an immediate impact on the team, playing in seven tournaments with a 72.3 stroke average and having a season-high finish in 6th place at the Lone Star Invitational.
Paradee will be competing in his fourth collegiate tournament. The Bangkok, Thailand native last joined the team at the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational where he finished in a tie for 73rd against stiff competition. The junior’s collegiate low round is 73.
Catalan will be making his collegiate debut after redshirting last year, but is anticipated to have a successful tournament.
“It’s Ricardo’s first collegiate tournament, so it’s going to be foreign territory but a great experience for him,” Lieberwirth said. “We know he is going to do some great things and we also know he is going to make mistakes, but it’s going to be a learning experience for him.”
Live stats will be available via www.golfstat.com.