The Cardinals are striving to birdie against the Eagles and to stride down the fairway to win a second consecutive championship.
The boys’ varsity golf team is currently tied with the Lincoln Mustangs and Washington Eagles for first place in the AAA with a 4-0 record. On March 14, the Cardinals faced two rivals, routing the Burton Pumas 215-337, with an impressive 122-stroke margin. The Marshall Phoenix, the other opposing team for that match, forfeited due to missing players. Starting this season, all regular season AAA golf matches will be three-way in order to maximize use of course time.
During their first season match on March 7, the Cardinals scored an impressive 220; however, only 17 strokes fewer than the rival Eagles who were close behind with 237. Despite the team’s confident start, the players keep their pride tucked away in their pockets. Their biggest opponents, the Eagles, still have their key player senior Griffin Ong, who had won the individual tournament two years ago. “In my freshman year, we didn’t think of the Eagles as a threat and ended up losing at the championships by a slight margin of two strokes,” junior Jonathan Duong said. “We do not want to make the same mistake again.”
The boys are stepping up to the tee box with powerful assets, such as junior starter Tom Ebergen, who clinched the individual AAA title last year and helped the team to conclude the season on top in both the individual and team categories. However, the Cardinals must sharpen their short game, especially putting skills. “Last year we had longer players, so distance was our advantage,” Duong said. “This year we will have to hone our skills in the short game and cut down strokes from there.”
Coach Mitchell Wagner teaches the team creative shots around the green and gives advice on choosing a club for different lies. “These kinds of tips really help shave strokes off our scores,” he said.
The team benefits from experienced underclassmen, including freshman Sean Li who scored 43 at his first match this season against the Wallenberg Bulldogs and O’Connell Boilermakers, ranking him close behind Ebergen, who was a medalist for the round. “He’s the only starting freshman this year, and our coach expects him to bring his score down into the 30s,” Bang said. “He’s definitely capable of doing it.”
The bench now consists of five new golfers and five returning ones. As the only senior on the team, captain Edwin Mak will lead the group. “Our only challenge is to restrain from being overconfident in our game, and one weakness is that some of us let mistakes from the past affect our holes for the rest of the round,” Mak said. “I look for my teammates to show that they are willing to put in an effort to constantly improve their game.”
The Cardinals’ next match is at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 4 at Lincoln Golf Course against the Eagles and the Mustangs.
A version of this article first appeared in the March 24, 2011 print edition of The Lowell.