Loyola reaches into its bag against elite

'Hounds, Caves Valley hosts to NCAA warm-up


September 25, 2004|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

T.J. Shuart doesn't want to get lost in a dream world this weekend at Caves Valley Golf Club.

The Loyola senior captain prefers reality when it comes to predicting how the Greyhounds will fare against the top 14 NCAA golf teams.

"We couldn't ask any more than to beat a couple of those teams," said Shuart of the Ping/Golfweek Preview tournament that will be held at Caves Valley tomorrow and Monday.

"I'm excited. We're a small Northeastern school, which doesn't have an elite program, and we're getting a chance to go against the best schools in the nation."

The Greyhounds have been given this rare opportunity because Loyola is the host school for the tournament at one of the top courses in the nation. The tournament serves as a precursor to the 2005 NCAA men's championships and is held each fall at the site of the following spring's national event.

Caves Valley will host the NCAA championships June 1-4.

"When I heard the NCAAs were coming here, it was an unbelievable feeling," Shuart said. "We've [Loyola] been to Oregon and Washington to compete in the NCAAs in the past, and now we'll have a chance to play [in the Preview] in front of friends, family and Loyola students."

To qualify for next spring's championships, the Greyhounds would have to finish in the top 10 out of 27 schools in their NCAA regional. Loyola has received bids to its NCAA regional the past two years, but didn't advance to the championship field.

While Shuart is playing it safe off the course this weekend, teammate Will Shriver isn't backing off a bit from the top teams and individual players coming to town.

"I'm trying to win this tournament," he said. "And I believe we have a couple of guys on our team who can compete with these golfers. I've played against a lot of these guys in the past and I'm confident of what I can do against them."

Shriver, known for his creative short game, is the youngest player (18) ever to win the Maryland State Amateur. The Silver Spring native graduated from Gonzaga High in Washington.

Loyola coach Tom Beidleman said he "isn't discounting" his team's chances of making a strong showing.

"Our guys aren't in awe of these golfers," he said. "Our program has come on strong, starting with T.J. who came here from Florida [Coral Springs], and then Will comes. And then we get two freshmen like Matt Bassler [Mount St. Joseph] and Chris Derby [Gonzaga]."

The fifth member of the Loyola team is sophomore Tommy Villani.

Preview NCAA tournament

What: Ping/Golfweek Preview tournament; precursor to NCAA championships, June 1-4, 2005, at Caves Valley Golf Club

When: Today, 12:30 p.m. (practice round); tomorrow, 8:30 a.m.; Monday, 7:30 a.m.

Where: Caves Valley Golf Club

Format: 36 holes tomorrow and 18 holes Monday

Admission: Free

The field: Top 10 team finishers at the 2004 NCAA championships (titlist California, followed in order by Clemson, UCLA, Georgia, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Texas, and TCU), plus at-large Florida, UNLV, Kentucky, Pepperdine, and host Loyola

Top individuals: Defending NCAA titlist and U.S. Amateur champ Ryan Moore of UNLV and Michael Putnam of Pepperdine

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