Men's Golf Fall Season Preview
Sept. 11, 2013
MALIBU, Calif. - When Michael Beard returned as the Pepperdine men's golf coach last December, he inherited a young team without a great deal of Division I experience. As Beard begins his first full season, he will have the luxury of a much more experienced group.
Beard's top six players down the stretch consisted of two veterans, two transfers and two freshmen. They're all back (though one will redshirt) all of them has the goal of moving the Waves back up to a prominent position in the West Coast Conference and the national rankings.
It wasn't easy taking over in the middle of the season, but Beard believes it will have its benefits going forward.
"It was nice to have the semester with the team," said Beard, who was a two-time All-American as a Pepperdine student-athlete between 1999-2002. "The guys know me better and know what I'm about, and I know them. There's no feeling-out process at this point. But it feels good to be starting a season fresh and I'm looking forward to it."
Having been an assistant coach at both Pepperdine and Arizona State before coming back to take the Waves' top job, Beard is ready to develop his own culture with the program.
"Working at two different universities under two different head coaches has helped me understand the role of a head coach," he said. "The experience I gained as an assistant has helped shape my style of coaching."
Seven of the nine players on the roster are back from last season, and two freshmen have also come aboard. There isn't necessarily an established star, but Beard believes he has the depth in place to put out an extremely competitive lineup at every tournament on the schedule.
"I like that we have nine players that are willing to put in the work," said Beard, who is assisted again by Carl Smith. "We have guys that are going to do everything they can to compete at the highest level. We may not have the track record at this point, but everyone seems to be using that as motivation."
The Waves have two seniors, Jeremy Sanders (Chatsworth, Calif./New Community Jewish HS/Redlands) and Parker Page (Louisville, Ky./Ballard HS). Sanders led the Waves in his first season, averaging a team-best 73.96 strokes per round. He's also coming off a very good summer in which he qualified for the U.S. Amateur, won the L.A. City Championship and tied for second at the Trans-Miss Championship. Page is the Waves' most experienced golfer, having been a regular in the lineup each of the past three seasons. He's also the only Wave with a college victory, as he was the co-medalist at the 2012 Folino Invitational.
Kevin DeHuff (Coto de Caza, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic HS) is the lone junior. He's been in the lineup each of his first two seasons and is also a standout in the classroom who earned WCC All-Academic honors last year. Like Sanders, DeHuff played in the 2013 U.S. Amateur.
The Waves had a big freshman class last year and three of them saw significant time. Now sophomores, more is expected of his group. Frederick Wedel (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands HS) was the Waves' top scorer at three events. Nick Thomas (Westlake Village, Calif./Chaminade College Prep/California) transferred into Pepperdine in January and played in four tournaments. Cameron Davison (Duncan, B.C., Canada/Duncan Christian HS) saw action twice last season. Cody McManus (Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista HS), who earned All-WCC honorable mention notice last year, is expected to redshirt this season.
New to the team are freshmen Robin Kang (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./South Torrance HS) and Ian Mankoff (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest HS), both of whom had strong high school and junior golf careers.
"All of these guys are very competitive," Beard said. "We've basically got eight guys competing for five spots in the lineup, and everyone has a chance. We could have some of them rotate in and out, and I don't think it will change much, because they're very close. The freshmen may need a little bit of time to adjust, but I expect that they will catch on quickly."
The Waves begin the fall season at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational, hosted by Washington at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash., next Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 16-17). The fall continues with California's Alister MacKenzie Invitational (Oct. 14-15), Cal State Northridge's Bill Cullum Invitational (Oct. 21-22) and Hawaii's Princeville Intercollegiate (Nov. 4-6).