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Success in 1993 to act as motivtion for men's golf

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Success in 1993 to act as motivtion for men's golf**

After placing in the top 10 in last year's NCAA championships, the men's golf team is gearing up to improve on last year's finish and build on its strong showing in the fall season.

Last year's team graduated two key players -- Tom Hurley and Jason Widener -- golfers who consistently turned in solid scores for the Blue Devils.

"Tom Hurley and Jason Widener were outstanding players. What we lost was two solid scores," head coach Rod Myers said. "You could really pretty much count on those guys playing pretty good, solid golf. I don't think that there is any question that we are going to be missing both Hurley and Widener, but I don't think that it is something that we cannot make up for."

This year's squad will be built around a nucleus of returning players, mainly seniors Aaron Crewse and Mike Muehr and sophomore Justin Klein.

Crewse and Muehr are established players with a significant amount of college golf experience, while Klein played well for the Blue Devils in last year's NCAA championships. Filling the fourth spot will be Joe Ogilvie, a sophomore, who improved his play at the end of last year.

"All three players [remaining from last season's championships], I feel, will be better players this year than they were last year," Myers said. "That is Michael Muehr and Aaron Crewse, who are both seniors, and Justin Klein, who is a sophomore. We also feel that by adding Joe Ogilvie to that group, who had a fine summer last year, that we've got really four outstanding players."

With solid play from the first four players, a solid No. 5 player will greatly strengthen the Duke team. Going into the spring season, the leading contenders challenging for the fifth spot are senior David Love, sophomore Daniel Brawley and freshman Jason Buha.

This past fall, the Blue Devils got off to a good start with some impressive performances, including second-place finishes in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational Tournament and the Northwestern University Tournament.

One disappointment came at the Golf World-Palmetto Dunes Collegiate, where the Blue Devils took 15th out of a field of 18. Though the competition was top-20 caliber, the finish served as an indication that the team has work to do before the spring season arrived.

"[The Golf World tournament] gave us an indication that we are going to have to play really well and that we are going to have to play better than we did in that particular tournament," Myers said.

This season, the Blue Devils will face some fierce competition, as the Atlantic Coast Conference is arguably the best conference in the nation.

"The ACC, I think you'll find, is the strongest golf conference in the country, depth wise," Myers said. "Last year, for example, there were five ACC teams in the top 11. That gives you an indication of where the depth is. I don't feel we have any weak teams."

In addition to playing ACC foes, in tournaments such as the Puerto Rico Invitational, the Florida Southern Invitational, and the Carpet Capitol Classic, the Blue Devils will be competing with the best teams in the nation.

What is unique about golf teams is that the individual performances go into the team effort. Though other sports, such as wrestling and track, are formatted in similar ways, teammates are separated in golf.

"Golf is kind of a funny sport as in you are out there as individuals. It is not like the basketball team where you're going to see them [your teammates] after every play," Crewse said. "Some guys I'll see when I tee-off and I won't see them again for another five hours, and at that point it is useless. But there is a chemistry thing in golf. We spend a lot of time together on trips."

Myers indicated that though it is the individual accomplishments that comprise the team effort, team unity is important.

"It is an individual game, so everything will key on the individuals, but it is also very much a team game in which I think team chemistry is very important," Myers said. "I think how well our guys are getting along, how much they respect each other's abilities, becomes important because I think it has to do with how well a guy hangs on out on the golf course when maybe things are getting a little tough.

"If he knows that his teammates have respect for him and that they are counting on him, and he has the same feelings for them, I think he hangs in there better. You might just call it team pride."

With their sense of team pride, the Blue Devils hope to match last year's effort and even improve on it.

"I am kind of anxious to get started," Myers said. "I really feel that this can be a better team than we had last year."

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