UW Men’s Golf Start The Season At The Maui Jim Invitational With High Expectations
SEATTLE – With a loaded roster and high expectations, the Washington men's golf team kicks off the 2021-22 season at the Maui Jim Invitational at Mirabel Country Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., starting Friday, Sept. 10 and running through Sunday, Sept. 12.
The Huskies and sixth-year coach Alan Murray return four major contributors from the spring of 2021 and added a pair of tested transfers and a handful on talented newcomers. They start the new campaign ranked 21st by Golfweek.
"We are really excited to get the season underway in what will be a really strong field at the 2021 Maui Jim Invitational," Murray said. "We believe we have a talented roster and there is a depth to us that we haven't had before. We have two fifth-year seniors that have won numerous times as part of teams and also individually."
Those fifth-year seniors – Noah Woolsey and RJ Manke – took different routes to arrive at UW for the 2021-22 season, but both will be leaned on heavy to carry the squad at the Maui Jim Invitational and beyond.
Woolsey has played in 40 collegiate tournaments for the Huskies and has led the team in scoring average in each of the last three seasons. He has been the Huskies' top finisher in 15 events and has three career wins under his belt.
Manke, who is from University Place, Wash., returns to the Pacific Northwest after competing the last four years for Pepperdine, which culminated in a NCAA title last spring with the Waves. He earned Golfweek All-American honorable mention and was ranked No. 38 by Golfweek/Sagarin. Manke has two individual victories during his college career, including the 2019 WCC Championships.
"Noah and RJ are going to be leaders for us this year and they can really impact our group in a very positive fashion off the course as much as on it," Murray said. "Our younger guys have great role models in both of those guys.
"We have a talented young group also that will be pushing the older guys hard."
Rounding out the Huskies lineup at the 54-hole tournament at the Par-71 Mirabel Country Club are sophomore Teddy Lin, junior Petr Hruby and freshman Aidan O'Hagan. Sophomore Taehoon Song will be competing as an individual for UW.
Hruby in one of two juniors on the squad, joining Bo Peng, who is still in China. While only Hruby will compete this weekend, Murray has high expectations for his juniors.
"Bo and Petr will be looking to kick it up this year," he said. "They are both extremely talented guys that can compete with the best players in the country on any given day."
Lin and Song are coming off impressive freshmen seasons that saw them turn up their games towards the end of spring. Lin was the Huskies' top finisher at the NCAA Cle Elum Regional and Song showed his ability to go low with a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Pac-12 Championship.
"Teddy and Taehoon played a lot of tournaments for us last year and showed that they will be big players for us moving forward," Murray said. "If they can build upon some good results from last year, it can help make us a really strong team."
Rounding out the team lineup this weekend is O'Hagan, a newcomer from Scotland. Murray anticipates the freshman will make a difference from day one and be a future stalwart in the Huskies' lineup.
"He is a really talented freshman that has a huge upside," Murray said. "If we can help him adapt to the demands of college golf quickly, then this will be a really exciting year for Husky golf."
Waiting in the wings for their shot are Boston College senior transfer Patrick Wu, sophomore Robert Galligan, second-year freshman Drew Warford and freshman Justin Hopkins.
"They are all extremely talented players in their own right, but the gauntlet has been thrown down to them in terms of making it into the starting lineup," Murray said. "They will have to raise their games to crack the top-five."
Murray knows that the competition will push his team and ultimately make everyone better. And for a coach, that is the formula for a very fun season.
"It's exciting as coaches to watch the team develop, bond and compete."