NORMAN, Okla. The Oklahoma Sooners men’s golf team begins its first tournament of the spring Wednesday, Feb. 9, at the Taylor Made Waikoloa Intercollegiate in Waikoloa, Hawaii.
Oklahoma, ranked No. 24 in the GCAA/Precept Coaches Poll and No. 45 in the Golfweek Magazine/Sagarin Performance Index, faces stiff competition from Big 12 conference foes No. 3/3 Oklahoma State and No. 6/8 Texas.
“It’s going to be great tournament with a great field,” OU head coach Jim Ragan said. “We’ll be able to see where we stack up with some of the best teams in the country.”
No.8/15 Arizona State, No. 9/10 Texas Christian, No. 10/9 UCLA, No. 11/11 Southern Cal and No. 12/14 Augusta State are also among the field.
The 15-year-old event, hosted by the University of Hawaii-Hilo, will be played for the first time at the 6,687-yard, par-72 Waikoloa Village Course.
“If the wind stays down, the scores are going to be low,” UHH head coach Earl Tamiya said. “It’s going to be fun for fans to watch as future golf professionals showcase their talents in this tournament and on this course.”
Headlining Oklahoma’s lineup is sophomore and returning All-American Anthony Kim (La Quinta, Calif.), who is the 49th-ranked golfer in the nation with a 70.32 stroke average this season. Kim finished in second place at the fall opener in Tennessee and backed up that effort with a 14th- and 22nd-place finish in the next two tournaments.
Last year, Kim won the individual title as he lead the Sooners to a fifth-place finish. The Big 12 Newcomer of the Year breezed through three rounds, shooting 71-67-67, to finish 11 under par with a two-stroke lead on second place.
“It’s a wonderful treat to have two returning All-Americans,” Ragan said. “Anthony and Carlos (Del Moral) are off to better starts than this time last year, so it will be great to see how they finish.”
In the Sooners’ No. 2 spot is another sophomore and returning All-American, Carlos Del Moral (Valencia, Spain). Del Moral started the fall with a 20th-place finish in Tennessee but struggled in the next tourney, finishing in a tie for 40th. The Spaniard bounced back in the Sooners’ final tournament at PGA West, leading the Sooners in 10th.
Rounding out the OU lineup are senior Craig Lurie (Houston, Texas) and newcomers junior Shawn LaFontaine (Cobourg, Ontario, Canada) and freshman Jordi Garca (Castillo, Spain).
“I’m excited to see how our newcomers perform for the first time as Sooners,” Ragan said.
Lurie is a veteran of six collegiate tournaments and saw his most recent action in the fall opener, the Intercollegiate at the Ridges.
LaFontaine spent 2004 at Odessa (Texas) College leading the Wranglers to an undefeated 2003-2004 season and the NJCAA National Championship. The Canadian just missed being crowned the individual national junior college champion, losing the title on a one-hole playoff.
Garca will also make his first start as a Sooner. The freshman won the Spanish Junior International title and finished 2004 ranked the No. 2 Spanish Junior and No. 4 Spanish Amateur.
Tee times for the tournament begin at 6:45 a.m., for rounds one and two, and at 7 a.m., for the final round. Participants will be teeing off from both the first and 10th tee.
SoonerSports.com will have post-round coverage and results for each day.