MEN'S GOLF: Ball State opens spring season in Florida
Cardinals enter tournament as No. 1 seed
The Cardinals host the Mid-American Match Play in Dade City, Fla., at the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club on Feb. 11 and are the favorites to win.
“We know what we accomplished in the fall season, and we want to build on that,” Fleck said. “But the spring and fall are two totally different seasons.”
One of the keys for the Cardinals will be shaking off the rust off three months of down time. Even though the team has been lifting, hitting indoors and scrambling for opportunities to play outside, Indiana’s inclement weather has limited the team for the winter.
“One of the biggest advantages of the fall season is the fact that the kids are coming out of the summer with their game at a high level already,” Fleck said. “In the spring they start basically out of inactivity.”
The months without playing on grass puts even more anticipation and pressure on the early shots and rounds. In an already intense mental game, the time off and expectations could make a few bad shots seem like a bad round and a bad round seem like a bad season. Fleck hopes his team’s experience will prevent this.
“Our group of guys are mature and they’ve been through it before,” Fleck said. “We just need to do what we can, and let everything take its course.”
Ball State is led by four seniors: No. 2 Joe Gasser, No. 3 Alex Stinson No. 4 Brodie Williams and No. 6 Tony Lazzara. Junior Tyler Merkel will compete as the No. 1 and the sophomore transfer from Michigan State McCormick Clouser will play at the No. 5 spot.
The line-up is nearly identical to the fall season’s, with the exemption of the addition of Clouser.
The event is match play, rather than stroke play, relieves some pressure from the six players teeing up. And other than Clouser, the entire line-up played at the same course last season and won the event.
Ball State has beaten every team in the field except Toledo — which it has not played — including winning the Firestone Invitational at Akron’s home course.
Despite this, Fleck has said he has warned his team about coming into the match with a complacent nature.
“I’ve told the guys it’s match play, anything can happen, and in Division I golf, everybody is good,” Fleck said.
Ball State will tee-off against No. 8 Ohio in the first round on Monday. The event will be a two-day affair beginning each day at 8 a.m. in a shotgun start.