Ducks Open Season in Arizona
The past year has been unlike any other for the Oregon men's golf team.
From the cancellation of the 2019-20 season back in March to not being able to compete in tournaments in the fall, the Ducks have had to adjust on the fly to all the changes over the last nine months.
"This has been a bizarre period of time," said head coach Casey Martin. "Everyone is doing the best they can to adapt to all the changes going on. We put together a rigorous internal team competition in the fall and the guys played well and we saw a lot of low scores so I was encouraged by that."
Now with the start of the 2021 season, the Ducks are looking forward to some sense of normalcy as they return to the course Monday through Wednesday at the Arizona Intercollegiate. Oregon will play eight spring tournaments, highlighted by the Duck Invitational, March 22-23, at Eugene Country Club, culminating with the Pac-12 Championship April 26-28 in Santa Rosa, Calif.
"The guys are going to have to shake off the rust those first few times out," said Martin. "It's been tough without having that level of competition for such a long period of time, but they're chomping at the bit and are excited to get back out there and compete."
Oregon's roster will feature a good mix of veterans and newcomers while losing just two players from last year's team. The Ducks will no doubt lean on Tom Gueant, Craig Ronne and Yin Ho Yue, each entering their third year with the program, and Nate Stember, who is back for his second year with the Ducks after finishing second on the team in scoring last year as a freshman.
Gueant led the team with a 72.35 scoring average a year ago, and played his best golf at the end of last year, finishing with back-to-back top-10 finishes in the final two events of the season. Ronne heads into the year with a 73.50 career scoring average over 48 career rounds while Yue comes in with a 73.03 scoring average in his first two seasons as a Duck.
A talented group of newcomers will also be in the mix heading into the spring, with a pair of transfers and three freshmen joining the program. Owen Avrit turned in a stellar freshman season at Long Beach State in 2019-20 while senior Jake Sollon played four seasons at Rider and has earned either all-region or all-conference honors each of the last two years.
Yuki Moriyama, Greg Solhaug and Will Stribling are all highly-touted freshman who have won numerous events over their junior golf careers. Moriyama was an AJGA All-America honorable mention selection in 2019 and competed in the U.S. Junior Amateur three straight years from 2017-19, reaching the round of 16 in 2018. Solhaug won several junior events over the last three years and Stribling was named the 2019 Southern California Junior Tour Player of the Year.
"We're starting to mature," said Martin. "As a team we aren't as young as we have been the last couple of years. We've got a good nucleus of guys in Tom Gueant, Craig Ronne and Nate Stember and others who are maturing in addition to a bunch of young guys will push them."