SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Tournament competition is right around the corner for Santa Clara University's men's and women's golf programs. Both teams begin the 2010-11 season Monday, September 13, playing against strong fields in the Northwest.
The women's schedule begins at Gonzaga's Circling Raven Collegiate Invitational in Northern Idaho. The Broncos, led by 11th-year head coach Polly Schulze, finished among the top teams at the West Coast Conference Championships last spring and return all-league upperclassmen Miki Ueoka and Tamara Surtees (pictured).
"I feel very good about our team this year," said Schulze. "They are fired up to compete and to win. Even though we are only a few days into the season I sense that they are willing to do what it takes to win."
The SCU women will play in nine events, including three here in the Bay Area. On the week of October 25 and 26, the women's team will host the inaugural Santa Clara Invitational at the Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose. SCU will also play in the Peg Barnard Invitational, hosted by Stanford, February 19-20 and San Jose State's Julie Inkster Invitational February 28-March 1.
"The thing I like most about our schedule is that we are getting an early jump on being in competition," says Schulze. "This is the first year that we are competing prior to the start of school (starting) and I think that is going to give the team an edge. There are five of the six WCC teams in our first event, all except Pepperdine. This is going to give us a good look at where we stand within the WCC right away."
Led by All-America candidate Scott Travers (pictured) – the reigning men's WCC Player of the Year – Santa Clara's men's program has a legitimate chance to emerge as a top 50 team and qualify for the NCAA Tournament regardless of the final outcome at the league championships in April.
"The team's goal this year is to try to achieve a national ranking which would qualify us for postseason play," said SCU men's head coach Rob Miller. "Once you get to the postseason, it is a matter of being hot at the right time in order to advance to the Nationals."
Miller has the players to do it. Travers is coming off one of the best summers in amateur golf history in the state of California, winning both the Cal State Amateur and the Southern California Amateur. Junior Cory Mehl is an All-WCC player and teammate Rick Lamb was the league's top freshman in 2010.
"My favorite (SCU golf) moment was winning in Palm Springs as a team last year," Mehl told Santa Clara's official website recently. "It is not easy to win a tournament in college – about 13 teams are in the field every time – and in golf it is always tough to win. That's why it really felt awesome to break through and know that our team is capable of doing great things."
Santa Clara won the Desert Intercollegiate last year and ended up finishing third in the WCC Championship race behind NCAA Tournament team's San Diego and Pepperdine.
"We need to stay healthy," said Miller about the keys to the upcoming season. "We have four players with significant collegiate experience. We're going to need one or more of our freshmen or sophomores to step up and compete well at this level since most of our competitions are five-count-four events."
The Bronco men open the season Monday, September 13 at the Palouse Cougar Collegiate hosted by Washington State on the school's redesigned golf course in Pullman.