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Men's Golf Excited to Get Back onto the Greens in 2021

Jan 21, 2021

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State men's golf team is eager to get its fifth year started under head coach, and alum, Dustin White. The Cougars will get the 2021 season started this Monday, Jan. 25, at the Arizona Intercollegiate after a 317-day layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cougars ended the 2019-20 season on a high-note, as they were coming off their best performance of the season at the Bandon Dunes Championship, where they placed 11th as a team, before the NCAA decided to cancel the remainder of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be a mixed-bag of youth and experience for Washington State this season, as the Cougs return six golfers from last season's team, while welcoming in four new players to the program.

"I'm looking forward to seeing these guys battle and compete," expressed the fifth-year head coach.  "We have a super competitive group that is driven to get better each day and wants the chance to win tournaments. They always have something they're playing for and it's great to see that leadership within the team. I think they are capable of some great things if they remain focused on themselves and stick to what they do best."

Fifth-year senior Nicklaus Chiam leads the group of returners for the Cougs. Chiam, who was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA due to the stoppage of play last season, led WSU in scoring average a year ago, shooting 72.80 per round. The Singapore native appeared in five tournaments for Washington State last season, and finished 15th-or-better in three of those tournaments. Chiam will look to keep the momentum going into 2021, as he ended last season with a season-best 12th-place finish by carding 213 (E) at the Bandon Dunes Championship.

Chiam will be one of three seniors for Washington State this season, as he is joined by Ryan Maine and graduate transfer Eric Hagen. Maine will be eager to get back on the green after competing in one tournament last season, while Hagen brings in a heap of experience after playing in a total of 117 rounds during a four-year career at the University of Denver. WSU will lean on Hagen's experience this season, as he logged three top-10 finishes for the Pioneers, carding under-par in 21 career rounds.

Hagen is one of four new WSU golfers this season, as he is joined by freshmen Preston Bebich, Jaden Cantafio and Nate Plaster. Coach White has liked what he has seen from his newcomers so far in practice, and is excited to watch their progress playout over the course of the season.

"They have done great in their transition here at WSU," White said of his newest batch of Cougs. "They bring great attitudes and are eager to contribute in any way they can. I think they will all play at some point this spring and help to get us where we want to be in May. We've got some Northwest guys and also a go-with-the-flow kid from Southern California. Eric has the most experience, but there is also something to be said for the young guys, Preston, Jaden and Nathan, who are hungry to compete and to prove themselves as well.  Most importantly, they understand the team aspect and want to see everyone do well."

Junior Max Sekulic will also step on the green for the first time for Washington State this season after transferring into WSU from Grand Canyon University at the start of the spring semester last season.

Washington State also returns a trio of sophomores that played a big role in the team's success from a as season ago. Pono Yanagi played in all seven tournaments as a true freshman a year ago, and placed inside the top-50 three times. He returns the second-highest scoring average from a season ago, as he carded 74.65 per round during his freshman season. Yuya Eguchi and Tianyu Wu each participated in five tournaments as true freshmen for the Cougars last season. Eguchi ended his freshman campaign by carding a personal-best 71 in the second round of the Bandon Dunes Championship, while Wu posted his lone top-50 finish of the season at the Arizona Intercollegiate, where he placed 49th overall.

"The team has been looking forward to competing with each other again and that excitement has brought them closer together and made them hungry," said White of his team. "They're ultra-competitive and are not afraid to get into contention to win tournaments.  I'm excited to watch them come together to make that happen."

Washington State will play in six tournaments in the spring of 2021, starting with the University of Arizona Intercollegiate on Jan. 25-27. The Cougs will take a near-month-long break from tournament play after their season-opening trip to the desert. WSU will return to action on Feb. 22-23 to participate in The Joust Tournament, hosted by Cal Baptist. WSU will then return to the Bandon Dunes Championship in Bandon, Oregon on March 7-9, before heading to California to play in The Goodwin at Stanford (March 25-27) and the El Macero Classic (April 10-12) hosted by UC Davis. The 2021 regular season concludes the week of April 26-28 at the 2021 Pac-12 Championship at the Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rose, California.

"As we make our way through the schedule, we're building towards the Pac-12 Championship," White expressed. "We will see a good variety of courses and some strong teams along the way. Add in all our preparation here at home, and you have a seasoned group that is poised to do something special. We're going to take it one day at a time, control what we can and play hard until we run out of holes each time out."

Stay up-to-date on all the latest information on the Washington State men's golf team by following WSU Men's Golf on Instagram and Twitter.