Cougars eye postseason after strong year

After capturing four team titles this season, the Cougars are preparing for the American Athletic Conference tournament. | Esteban Portillo/The Daily Cougar

After capturing four team titles this season, the Cougars are preparing for the postseason. The American Athletic Conference tournament begins on April 27.  |  Esteban Portillo/The Daily Cougar

Nearly a year after being nationally recognized, the Cougars are again preparing for the postseason tournament.

UH is hoping for a similar result to last season’s sweep of the team and individual titles in the conference tournament, following a third place finish in the regular season finale at the Reunion Intercollegiate on Tuesday.

But the lengthy course, possible weather disruption and talented competition will challenge the Cougars when they travel to Palm Harbor, Fla., to tee off at Copperhead Course for the American Athletic Conference Tournament on April 27.

None of the current Cougars have competed at the 7,340-foot course, so senior James Ross had his eyes glued to the television in mid-March for the Valspar Championship, which was held at Copperhead. Ross said the Cougars will battle a course that challenges golfers with its length and the prospects of a windy day.

But Director of Golf Jonathan Dismuke said the Cougars will put the distractions and challenges into the back of their mind and focus on things they can change. Though Copperhead can be a difficult course to navigate with a low score, he said his team welcomes the challenge.

“When you’ve got good skills, good experience and a history of success, it suits you well on a challenging course. You want a tough course to separate you from other teams,” Dismuke said.

The Cougars certainly have had a history of success this season.

UH has earned four team titles with as many top-five finishes in 12 tournaments this season while capturing five individual championships this year. The wins helped UH attain the No. 9 ranking in the national standings.

Winning golf tournaments is expected at a school that boasts 16 national titles and eight individual champions. However, Ross said the team doesn’t worry about the expectations and pressure of playing in the postseason.

“Golf is a sport where it’s had to win week in and week out, but if you keep doing the same things, you have a pretty good chance,” said Ross, who was named American golfer of the week on Monday after tying for second at the Reunion Intercollegiate.

Dismuke said he’ll make sure the team has plenty of rest, is prepared and gets a good week of practice before the conference tournament begins. He said the team will focus on the little things as it prepares.

“Golf’s a complicated game. It’s hard to point a finger at one thing,” Dismuke said. “But a lot of it is being prepared being able to control emotions and having the focus level to make proper decisions.”

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