Feb. 8, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Head coach Nicky Goetze has high hopes for his first Florida State squad as it begins the spring season. He inherited a veteran team when named head coach in July of 2000 and feels the team is on the cusp of being able to perform well both in the Atlantic Coast Conference and nationally.
“Our team continues to improve each day,” said Goetze. “The players have all been receptive to the new training strategies and ideas I have implemented as their new head coach. I have been pleased with their effort and I feel it will be just a matter of time before success comes our way. We need to be focused each day we are on the golf course and victories and championships will become a reality for us.
A pair of upperclassmen, Rick Westbrook and Mark Donaldson, are expected to lead the Seminoles. Westbrook and Donaldson were the team’s most consistent golfers during the fall season and are expected to lead the team through a tough spring schedule and into post-season play for the first time since 1996.
Junior Rick Westbrook, who earned the teams’ top stroke average during the fall season, enters the spring season as the Seminoles’ top golfer and team leader. Westbrook earned a seventh place finish at the Kiawah Island Invitational and crafted a 73.75 average during four tournaments. He led the team with four rounds of par or better during the fall.
“I see Rick continuing to be a team leader throughout the season,” said Goetze. “He worked extremely hard during the off-season to correct some mechanical flaws in his swing, and with these improvements, has improved his overall game. He is hungry to earn medallist honors this season and I can see his scores consistently approaching the 72-73 range.”
Senior Mark Donaldson is another player who Goetze will count on to help lead the Seminoles. Donaldson, too, enjoyed a strong fall season and finished with the team’s second best stroke average of 73.91. He led the team with nine rounds under 75 and shot a low-round score of 68 in the second round of the Coca-Cola Tournament of Champions.
“For our team to be successful, we need to be able to count on Mark for consistent scores each week,” said Goetze. “Mark plays very smart golf and rarely shoots a score above 75.
Senior Kris Hannah, another seasoned veteran, continues to improve as his confidence continues to grow. In nine rounds during the fall season, Hannah completed five with scores at 75 or below. He shot his career-best round of 71 at the Coca-Cola Tournament of Champions while helping the Seminoles to a tenth place finish in the team standings.
“Kris Hannah has a great attitude, and his intelligence on the golf course continues to serve him well,” said Goetze. “He has the chance to finish out his collegiate career at Florida State with a strong season.”
Jason Lopez, the third senior who will be asked to contribute to the Seminoles this spring, possesses a solid golf swing and strong short-game. He has begun to show his ability in providing low scores in tournament play as evidenced by his shooting six rounds of 75 or lower during the fall season. He averaged 75.50 strokes per round and carded a career-low 71 in the second round of the Cleveland Golf Intercollegiate.
“Jason should develop a comfort level in his starting role and be able to produce lower scores as the spring progresses,” said Goetze. “We are excited about the progress he is making in tournament play.
The biggest surprise player of the fall season was freshman Rusty Mosely. He participated in all four tournaments, averaged 75.50 strokes per round and shot a sensational 69 in the second round of the Coca-Cola Tournament of Champions. Three of his 12 rounds during the fall were 75 or below and two were par or better.
“Rusty Mosley has the potential to have a great spring season,” said Goetze. He is capable of shooting sub-par scores at any time and has an excellent chance to win an event this season. He has the ability to improve as much, or more, than all of the golfers on our squad this season.”
A host of juniors and sophomores including Peter Mitchell, Al Giebler, Brian Hawver, Matt Ackley and Brad Lusenhop will have the chance to compete for playing time this spring. Each has played strong golf during their careers and could contribute to the Seminoles’ starting lineup this spring. Mark Sestillio, the lone freshman on the roster, will also be given a chance to compete for playing time.
Giebler and Ackley are both juniors who have performed well throughout their careers at Florida State. Giebler was a member of the Seminoles’ lineup during last fall’s Gary Koch/Cleveland Golf Intercollegiate where he averaged 78.00 during the three round tournament. Ackely finished tied for 27th at the Louisiana State Invitational as a sophomore and shot a career-low 71 during the Keswick Cavalier Classic as a freshman.
Mitchell, Hawver and Lusenhop are all sophomores who will make their mark on the program during the remainder of their careers.
Mitchell competed in two tournaments during the fall season and averaged 76.00 strokes in six rounds during two tournaments. He shot a career-best 74 in the first round of the Coca-Cola Tournament of Champions. Hawver played in five tournaments as a sophomore and shot a low round of 75 at the Tennessee Tournament of Championship. Lusenhop also played in five tournaments as a sophomore and was the third highest finisher in the Seminole Classic.
“Our sophomores and juniors have been working hard to make the difficult step of earning a spot in the starting lineup,” Said Goetze. “I have been very encouraged by their play during the fall and spring seasons.”
Florida State plays six tournaments leading up to the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA Championship events. The schedule offers the Seminoles a chance to compete among the nation’s top teams from both the ACC and SEC on a weekly basis. The spring season includes one of the toughest Seminole Invitational fields in recent memory and appearances in the Beau Rivage College Classic in Gulfport, Miss., and the Augusta State Invitational in Augusta, Ga.
“The competition we will face from the ACC and SEC schools will place a tremendous amount of pressure on our team each and every week,” said Goetze. “I believe a couple of high finishes will allow us to build on our confidence each time we play. Sometimes, confidence is all it takes for a team to take its level of play up a notch or two.”