April 24, 2014
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Andy Seeley
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The UCF men's golf team is the No. 1 seed at the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship, which is set to begin Sunday at the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.
The Knights have been off since April 6, when they won the 3M Augusta Invitational. Head coach Bryce Wallor said the team has used that time to prepare for the conference championship meet.
"We've had a little time to get down and plan and prepare at the golf course," Wallor said. "The conference has allowed us that twice. We've seen the course, done our homework and we'll see how it goes."
Wallor will send a well-seasoned group of five to the first tee at Copperhead Sunday. Seniors Greg Eason, Ricardo Gouveia and Kyle Wilshire will lead the charge. Eason and Wilshire have each played in the three previous conference tournaments for the Knights, when they were members of Conference USA, while Gouveia has been on the course for the last two. UCF won the C-USA title in 2011 and has been in the top three each of the past three seasons.
Individually, Eason won C-USA medalist honors as a sophomore in 2012, was the runner-up in 2011 and finished in a tie for eighth last season. Gouveia has two Top 10 finishes in conference tournaments. Wilshire has two Top 20 finishes in his three conference tournament appearances, including a ninth-place showing in 2012.
"We've got some experience," Wallor said. "Obviously, those three seniors Greg Eason, Ricardo Gouveia and Kyle Wilshire kind of know what they're doing."
Junior transfer Linus Vaisanen will also be in the lineup. He has postseason experience, finishing 23rd for the University of San Diego at the West Coast Conference Championship in 2013. Freshman Federico Zucchetti rounds out the Knights entry. While he's just a freshman, he has put together four Top 20 finishes in six starts this season.
For the American Athletic Conference Championship, Eason, Gouveia and Wilshire earned exemptions for their Top 25 finishes at the 3M Augusta Invitational. Zucchetti and Vaisanen were coach's selections, with no qualifying being held for the championship event.
UCF enters the conference championship as the No. 7-ranked team in the nation by Golfstat. Former Conference USA foe Houston is ranked No. 9. The Knights and Cougars enter as the likely favorites in The American. But USF comes in ranked No. 30, SMU is No. 31 and Memphis is No. 47. Both SMU and Memphis are former C-USA members as well.
"This is a strong conference," Wallor said. "It's eerily similar to what we've had before. It's a lot of the same teams we see throughout the year and/or have played in conference before. So, it's really no different."
Wallor's team won its first two events of the season back in the fall and has won its final two regular-season events this spring. He hopes they're peaking at the right time and playing their best golf in late April and May. After that, Wallor said, let the chips fall where they may.
"My goal is for us to just go out and play well," Wallor said. "I can't control whether we win or lose. I can control how my team plays. We're going down there to play our best golf. If we play the way we're supposed to, we'll come out on top. If we play well and someone else beats us, that's the way it goes."
Play on the par-71, 7,125-yard Copperhead Course will begin at 8 a.m. with 18 holes each of the three days. As the No. 1 seed, UCF will tee off at 9:40 a.m. Sunday. Tee times for subsequent rounds will be determined by scores in the previous rounds. Admission to the event is free and open to the public, and live scoring can be found through www.GolfStat.com.