North Texas Daily

Men’s and Women’s golf teams swing into seasons

Men’s and Women’s golf teams swing into seasons

September 18
12:34 2015

Brady Keane | Staff Writer

@BradyKeane3

With the 2015-2016 golf season about to be underway, both the Mean Green men and women’s golf teams are looking to utilize rosters full of returning and young talent to build off of their performances last season.

The men’s golf team is coming off their third conference championship in the last four years under last year’s Conference USA Coach of the Year Brad Stracke.The team returns junior captain Cory Churchman and sophomore Michael Cotton, among others.

Churchman hit a birdie putt in a playoff round against the University of Alabama at Birmingham to seal the C-USA title win for the Mean Green last season.

Cotton, who was named to the C-USA all-freshman team last season, won the Texas Amateur Championship this summer after shooting 8-under par in the tournament. Cotton became the third North Texas player ever to win the event, and was the first since Zach Atkinson won in 2004.

“Those two are really good leaders,” Stracke said. “I expect them to fill in the rest of the guys on what to expect, and help me along the way to lead the team to a really successful year.”

In addition to the experience and leadership Churchman and Cotton bring to the table, the Mean Green also added a talented group of freshman and transfer students that could step in to make an immediate impact.

“You don’t like to put a lot of expectations on them,” Stracke said of his newcomers. “They’re really good players and I believe they’re going to fill in quite well. A couple of them are going to be going to the first tournament, so we’ll see how they do.”

The team’s quest for the 30th conference title in school history and second straight C-USA championship will begin with the Memphis Intercollegiate Tournament on Monday Sept. 21.

“Now that we’ve won it, we can’t settle for anything less,” Churchman said. “Everyone came together and played as a team, and that has carried over to this year.”

The Mean Green women’s golf team is coming off a fourth place finish in the C-USA Tournament last season. Although the team now has first year interim head coach Barry Niemann at the helm of the program, the expectations remain high.

North Texas returns four out of their top five players from last year’s team, and Niemann added two new freshmen and one transfer to the roster for the upcoming season.

“I’m expecting to pick up where we left off in the conference last season,” Niemann said. “I’ve got a lot of high expectations for this group, and I think we’re going to preform well.”

Sophomore Abbi Shaddix played a large role in developing those high expectations for this season after shooting the third lowest round in school history at the C-USA Championship last season.

In addition to Shaddix, the Mean Green brings back upperclassmen leaders, senior Laura DeLeonardis and as junior Eji Kwon. DeLeonardis played in eight tournaments last season and had her best finish in the Islander Spring Classic, while Kwon was the first sophomore to earn all-conference honors at North Texas since 2004.

“I hope to use that as motivation,” Kwon said. “There is always one level higher. I hope to take that leap to the next level.”

The Mean Green kicked off their 2015-2016 season on Sept. 14 at the Fed-Ex Memphis Intercollegiate tournament, but despite the high expectations, the ladies finished in 14th place.

Niemann and the Mean Green noted that the team will be looking to improve on their accuracy off the tee, as well as their short game and putting moving forward in the season.

“It was a tough course,” Shaddix said. “But it let us know that we need to work on for the rest of the year.”

The Mean Green will have a chance to bounce back from the opening tournament on Sept. 28-29 at the Bob Hurley ORU Shootout in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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