It’s safe to say the Aggies are stacked.
The UC Davis men’s golf team is returning its top four players from last season. That, along with a strong recruiting class, gives coach Cy Williams reason to be excited.
“We have some very good players,” Williams said. “All of our players care and are serious about improving.”
The Aggies return Austin Graham, Tyler Raber, Andrew Hagan and Josh Granger. Despite losing Brett Booth to graduation, Williams believes the freshman class will bring some good talent to the squad.
“Our freshmen are very, very good,” he said. “They’ll fit in nicely in our lineup.”
With the 2009-2010 top four returning and a deep freshman class coming in, the Aggies are in a unique situation. Not only will the players be competing against other golfers from different teams, they will also be competing with their own teammates for a spot in the starting lineup. Williams believes this intra-squad competition is good for UC Davis.
“My goal is to have a lot more competition on the team,” Williams said. “We didn’t have real depth on the team last year and it hurt us overall. This year we do have that depth so the players will be competing all the time in practice. This way we will get better.”
Williams feels that by having the players battle for starting positions not only at tournaments but also at practice, the Aggies will improve.
“Each player needs to be committed to eliminating mistakes,” Williams said. “Everyone needs to find their weak area and improve upon it.”
Williams has a pretty straightforward goal for the Aggies this year – he wants the team to win the Big West Conference and qualify for the NCAA championships.
“I have no doubt we can accomplish those goals,” he said. “It’s all up to our players. If they can play and prepare the right way, we can win our conference.”
Williams’ goals aren’t just based on results, though. He also wants to see improvement.
“Our short term goal is to get better after every tournament and for everyone to improve after every weekend,” Williams said.
The Aggies play 10 tournaments over a span of seven and a half months, so the schedule is really spread out. Williams, however, doesn’t think it will be a problem.
“We put together a great schedule where every tournament is against amazing golfers on amazing courses,” Williams said. “Our players need to be ready and stay ready or they’ll get their butts’ kicked.”
Williams even said that with the quality of tournaments the Aggies will compete in, they don’t really have to practice because of the consistent tough competition they will face.
The Aggies’ began their season on Monday at the Husky Invitational hosted by Washington.
After the 2008 team qualifying for the NCAA regionals, Williams wouldn’t go so far as to say this year’s squad is one of the most talented teams he’s coached. He did say, however, this team is one of the deepest he’s seen in his 16-year tenure.
“Much more of the team is competing for a starting slot,” he said. “If someone is slumping, I’m confident one of the guys on the bench can step up.”
With depth and a strong schedule, Williams’ feels this year can be special.
“Time will tell how good this team can be,” he said. “We won’t know until we actually play. This team has a lot of talent and its up to them to prove how good they are.”
JASON ALPERT can be reached at email@example.com.