Huskies kickoff '07-'08 season with marathon

Sept. 9, 2008

SEATTLE - The Washington men's golf team kicks off its season today with a marathon 54-hole event that will decide the start of the season's early pecking order.

'One of the things that people like about our program is that we aren't locked into a four or five guys playing,' said UW head coach Matt Thurmond. 'We start with a clean slate. Whoever is playing the best will play.'

Thurmond is referring to the lineup he will take to the Golfer Invitational in Wayzata, Minn. - the team's first tournament, which begins this Friday. But first, the Husky men are competing in the second annual Fall Scrimmage at the Tumble Creek Golf Course at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum today. And while it is a competition for playing time, the players stress that it can't be looked at as a typical day of practice.

'It is fun for everybody,' said UW junior Nick Wallace. 'It's a good way to get to know everybody - by the last round, everybody is just laughing together and you're great friends.'

'It will be a little different for the new guys because this year it's for qualifying, but it's still a great way for everybody to start the year,' said junior Nick Taylor.

Not a typical first day of practice, the 54-hole event is thought of as a rite of passage for the incoming freshmen, and Thurmond believes it helps players get an advantage on the competition. In an age when many Division 1 coaches are hesitant about having their players play 36 holes in a day, Thurmond feels that his players are better prepared for the season mentally than most after having to play 15 hours of golf in one day.

'They're pumped up about it,' Thurmond said about the freshmen. 'It seems like the better shape they're in, the more pumped up about it they get. But it's also a good way of having guys develop mental toughness. We'll play 36 holes many times this year and I just don't believe that these kids can't handle it. They're young and in great shape.'

Some of his players say that when they tell other Pac-10 schools about playing 54 holes, they find it hard to believe.

'They think we're crazy,' said Tze Huang Choo, UW sophomore. 'But it's fun. By the last 18 holes, my feet are killing me.'

The Huskies are looking to build off of their seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championship in 2007. They will play at the Gofer Invitational later this week and host the Husky Invitational at Gold Mountain Golf Course on Sept. 29 and 30.

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