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March 17, 2011

2010-11 Season - Vikings look to improve at CCIW Championships

Jeff Paustian finished 22nd at The Shootout at Aguila in Phoenix, Arizona to open the spring season for the men's golf team. He shot a season low round of 76 on the first day of competition and has an 80.1 scoring average.
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - The Augustana men's golf team recently returned from its spring trip to Phoenix, Arizona and assistant coach Paul Del Vecchio was pleased with was he saw from his squad. "Overall, we played pretty well for our first tournament," he said. "We had quality practices earlier in the week and also had some positive results from our practice round before playing in the tournament." The Vikings tied for sixth in a strong field at The Shootout at Aguila and will look to build on that momentum as they prepare for other tournaments this spring and ultimately the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Championships.

Although Del Vecchio admitted that his troops were a little rusty in the opening round of play, he did feel that the team's play picked up in the final round of action. Leading the way in Arizona was junior Jordan Henry (Erie HS, Erie, Ill.), who finished ninth in the individual standings. "Jordan played particularly well," said Del Vecchio. "He shot a 32 on the front nine and played a strong round with only a couple tough holes at the end. I expect him to be one of our top players this spring," he said. Henry is the team leader with a 74.5 scoring average after two rounds of play.

Senior T. Cole Wells (Tri-Valley HS, Downs, Ill.) also performed well on the second day, shooting a 35 on the opening nine holes. Wells currently holds the third lowest scoring average on the squad at 80.8 in six rounds on the course, including fall last fall. Senior Kyle Weigand (Leyden HS, Franklin Park, Ill.) also lowered his score on the second day and Del Vecchio was pleased to see the overall progress that was made. "I am pleased with our performance in the second round of the tournament," he said. Weigand has an 82.6 scoring average in seven rounds for the Vikings.

Also performing well at the event for Augustana's "A" team were sophomore Jeff Paustian (Geneva HS, Geneva, Ill.) and senior Phil Litchfield (Benet Academy, Darien, Ill.). "Jeff played really well in qualifying rounds and shot a 71 in our practice round before the tournament. We look for good things from him this spring," said Del Vecchio. Litchfield is another senior that figures to be a part of the top five for the Vikings. "We expect great things from Phil, Cole, and Kyle this season," said Del Vecchio.

Del Vecchio also highlighted sophomore Curtis Lubic (Kaneland HS, Sugar Grove, Ill.) someone to watch this spring. Lubic led Augustana's "B" squad with a 168 score in Arizona, including a round of 80 on the final day. "He has the potential to be in the top five," said Del Vecchio.

Perhaps the most significant development in the Augustana's men's golf program is the team's move to Pinnacle Country Club in Milan, Illinois. "The practice facility and the golf course are both top notch," said Del Vecchio, who noted that the course hosts the qualifying rounds for the prestigious John Deere Classic event that comes to the Quad Cities with the PGA Tour each year. Rick and Stan Miller, both Augustana alumni, own the Pinnacle Country Club and have offered it up to the Vikings. "It is really nice of them to let us use their facility as a home course," said Del Vecchio.

In his second season with the program, Del Vecchio has also delved into the recruiting side of things and is enjoying the experience. "We are looking for someone who has a passion for golf and that wants to improve. Recruits need to have a solid base, but also a willingness to work on their game," said Del Vecchio. "Augustana has an outstanding academic profile and we also want to highlight that in our recruiting," he said.

After finishing sixth at the CCIW Championships a year ago, the Vikings will be looking to improve on that standing later this spring. The team will use the Prairie Fire Classic, Illinois Wesleyan Invitational, and Augustana Invitational to gear the men up for the conference tournament. "The guys are focused and eager to improve on last year's finish," said Del Vecchio.