Oct. 23, 2009
Loyola golf started out on a high note this fall season, finishing third the season-opening Manor Intercollegiate.
But from there, things got as wild as Phil Mickelson at a major for the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions.
A last-place finish at the John Dallio Memorial in Chicago, the first such finish in program history, followed. Loyola then went on to finish in 10th place in Orlando at the Mission Inn Intercollegiate, and seventh place at another Illinois event, the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate.
Head coach Tom Beidleman has been encouraged by what he has seen from his squad at times, and discouraged at times as well. However, the eight-year head coach is far from worried.
"We're no different this year than where we were last year," Beidleman said. "We were in exactly the same boat, which is both comforting and disappointing, because I know we can turn it around."
Consistency is what Beidleman feels is key, and he wants that theme to begin Monday in California, when the Greyhounds compete in Cal State Northridge's Bill Cullum Invitational at Wood Ranch Golf Club, north of Los Angeles in Simi Valley.
"We've been a little bit schizophrenic. Our rounds look like EKGs," Beidleman said. "We've been able to put stretches of holes together. We've been able to put nines together, we've had a couple 18s that have been fine but we haven't had that multi-day thing where we've been consistent."
Some of the inconsistencies can be attributed to youth. This year's team boasts a lineup full of freshmen and sophomores with just one junior and one senior. But Beidleman understands the adjustments to a higher level of play and to a new life in college wont happen over night.
"It's obvious this year that we're just young," Beidleman said. "But we don't ever use that as an excuse because they obviously have the tools to be here, so they should be able to apply it."
The group Beidleman has been most impressed with this season is the sophomores. Patrick McCormick and Ryan McCarthy have been steady for the Greyhounds while Jay Mulieri has provided leadership for the underclassmen.
McCormick has finished in the top-10 and the top-20 in the two events he played in. Mulieri has posted some of the highest birdie totals of each event he's played in this season.
"I'm pleased with the way that Ryan and Pat have matured both on and off the golf course. Patrick and Ryan have done a good job of really understanding their roles and they're getting it," Beidleman said. "Jay is very close to breaking out and putting us in the big numbers again."
Mulieri came in last year as the highly-touted younger brother of former teammate Mike. Over the summer, the MAAC Rookie of the Year won the Maryland State Amateur, taking the title away from his brother, the 2008 champ. While Mulieri frequently posts red numbers, Beidleman notes that he needs work with his short game, which is all too characteristic with ball strikers like Mulieri.
"Jay's philosophy is if he gets it closer (to the hole) than he doesn't have to worry about (putting). And that's something we're trying to change."
Mulieri has been extra focused on putting since the Greyhounds last event, and has made some mechanical tweaks that Beidleman feels will help the sophomore as the season progresses.
A strong short game plays into the theme of consistency. Beildleman is trying to implement those aspects in his young group now, in hopes that it will provide continuity throughout their time at Loyola. His theory of playing a course from the hole back is not far off from several Tour pro's method of "tee-to-green and green-to-tee".
Beidleman is optimistic that some of the elements he's trying to implement will show up this weekend in California. The sophomore trio of Mulieri, McCarthy and McCormack, along with freshmen Jason Burton and Jon Ross will face a field heavy on West Coast teams.
Historically, Loyola has done well in West Coast events and the team is looking forward to playing in the typical So Cal weather that is predicted for next week.
Ultimately, the event is just one more stepping stone to the most important event of every year: the MAAC Championships. The countdown to Disney World has already begun.
"They have 183 days to figure it out," Beidleman said. "If we had 12 days, I would be worried. But they have 183 days."