Men's Golf Team Opening Spring Season
News Release Date:
Thursday, March 12, 2009
WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Look for recent resurgence of the men’s golf program at Whitman College to take a few more steps in the right direction this spring.
With sophomore Brian Barton leading the way, a group of six Whitman golfers will tee it up for the first time later this week at the Pacific Invitational, a 36-hole tournament at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course near North Plains, Ore.
“Our team is looking very good this spring,” Whitman coach Peter McClure says. “This might be the deepest, most talented team we’ve had in my time here. This is also the best team-wide attitude we’ve had in the past few years. These guys want to play at a high level and all of them want to get better.”
| Brian Barton
Barton established himself as one of the best golfers in the conference last fall. He birdied three of the last four holes to win October’s Northwest Fall Classic by three strokes. A few weeks earlier, he tied for the top spot at the NWC Northern Colleges Tournament before losing on the fourth playoff hole.
“Brian is without question the best player on our team in terms of golfing skills, mental approach to the game, and course management,” McClure says. “He’s also our most experienced player in terms high-level competitive golf.
“Part of Brian’s strength is that he such a well rounded player,” McClure adds. “He’s not only very long off the tee, he’s also very accurate. He hits a lot of greens in regulation, he’s a superb putter, and his short game is very sharp.”
McClure also likes Barton’s calm, confident approach to the game. “He brings an air of genuine coolness to our team. He knows how to perform under pressure, which is something I think he’s learned as a both a golfer and musician. Brian is one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists on campus.”
| Steve Campbell
Steve Campbell, a junior fresh off his first season with the Whitman basketball team, is new to the golf team this spring.
“Steve is a very skilled athlete – there is no question about that – but he also has a good grasp of what it takes mechanically to hit the ball properly,” McClure says. “He doesn’t just swing as hard as he can with every shot and spray the ball all over the course. He understands the benefit of keeping the ball in play.”
In a recent practice round with his coach, Campbell shot 1-under par over nine holes on a wet, cold afternoon. “All or most of the golf that Steve has played in the past has been recreational in nature, but his tournament golf potential is great,” McClure says. “He has a real chance to be very good, very quickly.”
McClure also gives high marks to Campbell when it comes to the intangibles. “Steve has an excellent attitude toward the game and his teammates, and he’s very coachable. He’s eager to learn about the game, and he’s very determined to make himself into a better golfer. He looks forward to competing in the tournament atmosphere.”
| John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie, a freshman from Portland, Ore., gives Whitman a third big hitter at the top of its line-up. Abercrombie, Campbell and Barton all stand about 6-foot-4 in heighth. “All three drive the ball 300 yards on a routine basis,” McClure says. “They hit the ball as far as anyone I’ve ever had in the program.”
Abercrombie’s golf game has “already come a long way in just the short time he’s been with the team,” McClure adds. “In terms of competing at the college level, he’s getting more comfortable all the time. Right now, he’s working on his short game.”
Abercrombie shot 79 in a recent practice round despite missing nine greens. “John got up and down in just one of those nine cases, so as he sharpens his short game -- and he’s working hard at it -- his scores could drop dramatically.”
| Paul De Barros
Paul De Barros, a junior, adds more talent and another touch of maturity to a team that remains fairly young. He missed the fall semester tournaments while on foreign study in Argentina.
“Paul has come back to the team this semester with a genuine desire to improve his game in every way,” McClure says. “This team can really benefit from the maturity Paul can bring to the group.”
Two years ago as a freshman, De Barros posted a scoring average in the 70s. “That average rose a bit last year, but he’s now showing the same promise and potential that he had as a freshman,” McClure says. “Paul is a skilled player, and when he’s playing well, there’s no reason he can’t shoot in the 70s.
Other veterans on the team are sophomore Noah Jolley and junior Grant Brandal.
“Noah has a lot of tournament-level experience, and he played well last fall when his lowest round was 81,” McClure says. “He should definitely contribute to our team scoring this spring. He has the same desire to improve as everyone else on our team. He’s working hard on his game.”
| Noah Jolley
| Grant Brandal
Brandal, who played two seasons with the men’s basketball team as a 6-foot-3 guard, is another “one of our stronger athletes who can really bust the ball off the tee,” McClure says. “Like others on our team, he is really driven to improve his game and be more competitive. As he plays more golf, and as his iron play gets better, his scores will continue to come down.”
Rounding out the roster are three more freshmen -- David DeVine (Bellevue, Wash.) and twin brothers Benjamin and Sebastian Elstott (Eugene, Ore.).
“David began using a new driver last fall, and once he became accustomed to using it, he started playing pretty well,” McClure says. “He’s working on playing with more consistency. There are times when he still might blow up on a hole or two and drive up his score on an otherwise good round. He also a great attitude, and he will continue to sharpen his game as he gains more experience at the college level.”
“The two twins both have a good swing, and they hit the ball well,” McClure says. “Ben played with us last fall and Sebastian joined the team this semester. Both will continue to improve as they gain more experience.”
- 30 -CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
email@example.com; (509) 527-5902