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Utah Golf to Open 2018-19 Season in Minneapolis at Gopher Invitational
By Mady White, University of Utah Athletics Communications Student Assistant
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Utah men's golf team is set to open the 2018-19 season this Sunday and Monday, Sept. 9-10, at the Gopher Invitational. The two-day, 54-hole event will take place at the Windsong Farm Golf Club in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Utes set to compete in the opening event are senior Kyler Dunkle, junior Jordan Costello, sophomore Tristan Mandur, freshman Jonathan Wijono, and sophomore Blake Tomlinson. Live results for the event can be found at www.golfstatresults.com with action beginning Sunday morning.
2018-19 SEASON PREVIEW
With the core group of student-athletes returning from last season's lineup, the Utah men's golf team expects their growth as a program to continue on the upward track heading into the 2018-19 season. Now in his third year at the helm of the Utah golf program, head coach Garrett Clegg expects the team to prove that they are a program that can compete at the highest level of collegiate golf.
“We are really excited to get this year going,” said Clegg. “There is a ton of optimism for these guys with all the returners, while also adding in our newcomers. Our team is ready to make a name for ourselves as a program. They want to compete at a higher level and that is what excites us as a team and as a coaching staff.”
Last season, the Utes took home the first regular-season tournament team title since 2009 at the Mark Simpson Invitational. The Utes finished in the top-five at all four fall events the team participated in. The Utes were up and down as a team throughout the difficult spring schedule, but throughout the entire season had great individual performances.
“Everyone on the team is hungry to prove that we were a lot better than we were last year,” Clegg stated. “We had a good year in a lot of ways, but we didn't finish the year the way we wanted to.”
Utah returns five golfers that competed in the majority of the events last year. Last year the Utes were consistently led by Blake Tomlinson and Kyler Dunkle. Tomlinson notched three top 10 finishes during his freshman season while also leading the team in season scoring average at 71.5 strokes over 37 rounds last year. Tomlinson became the first Utah golfer to qualify for an NCAA Regional since 2007.
Dunkle was also a huge contributor to the team last season, recording a scoring average of 71.6 strokes over 31 rounds. Tomlinson and Dunkle posted the lowest single season scoring averages since Dustin Pimm recorded an average of 71.7 back in the 2006-07 season. Dunkle notched three top 10 finishes during his junior campaign, while also taking home the individual title at the Mark Simpson Invitational to earn Utah's first regular-season individual title since 2006.
“Last year Blake was the top player for us, so now we have to look at what his sophomore year might bring,” Clegg explained. “He should be able to handle things better, be more consistent, and just overall be a better golfer. Kyler is coming off a really good summer. He is our lone senior on the team this year. His expectations are extremely high of himself and of the team.”
The Utes also return Tristan Mandur and Jordan Costello, who competed in every event for Utah during the 2017-18 season, along with Mitchell Schow who participated in the majority of events last season. Mandur ended his freshman season on a high note, finishing as the top Ute at the Pac-12 Championships in a tie for 34th place.
“Tristan played in every single tournament and was very up and down,” Clegg said. “This year he should be a lot more stable and consistent. Tristan and Blake's improvement should be huge for the program. Jordan was disappointed with his season last year. He didn't improve as much as he wished he would have, at least as what the scores showed. I would look for Jordan to have a breakout season this year. Mitchell is in the same boat as Jordan. Both of them didn't have their best seasons and would really like to prove themselves this year.”
Utah also returns junior Peyton Hastings, who appeared in two events during his sophomore season, and Colton Tanner, who redshirted last year as a true freshman.
Along with the core group of Utes returning, the Utah golf program adds four true freshmen to the 2018-19 team. Dylan Chugg, Axel Einarsson, Oscar Maxfield, and Jonathan Wijono comprise this year's incoming class. Chugg and Maxfield are local prospects from Ogden and Salt Lake City, while Einarsson hails from Sweden and Wijono comes from Indonesia.
“It will be tough with five guys returning who have played a lot over the last couple of years, so the newcomers will have to bring a lot to the table to be able to crack the lineup,” Clegg said. “They are certainly capable of it and I expect them to, but we will have to wait and see how they progress.”
“I expect that we will be a little deeper. In the last couple years, our lineup has been pretty much the same every week. Our depth is stronger this year, and top to bottom we are a stronger team. Hopefully we can showcase our talent with our schedule and have our guys competing at the highest level.”
The Utes will open the season competing in four events in four weeks beginning at the Gopher Invitational on Sunday and Monday, Sept. 9-10 in Minneapolis, Minn. Utah will also return to the Mark Simpson Collegiate this season as the defending tournament champions on Sept. 24-25. After the busy September run, Utah will close out the fall season at Saint Mary's Invitational in early November.
Utah golf will tee off the spring slate at the Amer Ari Invitational in Waikola, Hawaii, on Feb. 7-9. The entire schedule for the Utes will showcase the nation's top programs and test the Utes week in and week out. The Pac-12 Men's Golf Championships will be hosted by Oregon on April 22-24 in Eugene, Ore.
“Our schedule this year is going to be hectic in September,” Clegg explained. “We have a lot on our plate right away. We have a very elite-level schedule this year. The tournaments we are playing in are at a higher level than we probably ever have competed in as a program. That is exciting for us and gets the guys fired up. We will have to be ready to go.”
Fans can follow the Utah men's golf team on Twitter (@UtesGolf), Facebook (University of Utah Men's Golf), and Instagram (@utesgolf).