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Friday, January 21, 2022

Golf

Seniors help coach create winning culture


UH expects to win the American Athletic Confernce tournament on Sunday and capture the program’s 17th NCAA title this summer. |  File photo/The Daily Cougar

UH expects to win the American Athletic Confernce tournament on Sunday and capture the program’s 17th NCAA title this summer. | File photo/The Daily Cougar

Though he’s just 16 days away from walking across a makeshift stage at Hofheinz Pavilion, Wesley McClain believes his biggest moment at UH on the golf course has yet to arrive.

The opportunity for McClain and the Cougars to etch their name among great individuals and teams that have competed for the program is still ahead — it begins with the American Athletic Conference tournament on Sunday.

The Cougars will travel to Palm Harbor, Fla., to tee off at Copperhead Course, which features tight fairways and complex greens that challenge golfers to remain patient. UH hopes to earn a conference title for the second consecutive season, then move on to bigger goals.

The No. 12 Cougars have their eyes on claiming the 17th national title in program history, and they remain confident that they should win each tournament they enter.

Four years prior, the Cougars had a different mentality. Though the team had talent when McClain arrived, their faith wasn’t backed up by recent success — the Cougars weren’t ranked and didn’t have a signature victory. That changed when UH burst on the national scene with a big postseason victory.

“When we show up, we’re not worried about anyone else,” McClain said.

“(At first) we were good enough, but we didn’t believe it. Now we believe it, and you can tell when we show up.”

After capturing the Conference USA tournament title last 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. Junior Roman Robledo emerged as a consistent title threat with three tournament victories.

“You have University of Houston on your back, and people are looking at you,” said senior Curtis Reed. “When we were freshmen, we were looking at other teams that were ranked in the top 10 and watching what they were doing.”

Last season’s success gave the Cougars a taste of what they wanted. The squad reached the NCAA regionals for the second consecutive year and narrowly missed advancing to the NCAA championships by two strokes.

“Our expectation is the national championship. We just need one or two more steps,” McClain said.

For Director of Golf Jonathan Dismuke, piloting the program to where it is now took a freshman class buying into his vision four years ago.

“These guys invested their time and talent into the program when it was in a different situation. They invested long before the program was a success. We’re forever grateful for the freshman class that signed in 2010,” Dismuke said.

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