Michigan State men’s golf head coach Casey Lubahn has announced the Spartans’ schedule for the upcoming 2018-19 season. The Spartans will play six tournaments in the fall and then five in the spring leading up to the Big Ten Championships, April 26-28, 2019.
“It’s a really strong schedule,” Lubahn said. “It’s getting harder and harder with all the things we have to balance, but I think we’re very happy with it. We’re going to see a lot of different parts of the country and a lot of different golf courses, but most importantly, a lot of great fields that are going to prepare us for the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Tournament.”
The Spartans return all but two starters from last year’s team that earned an NCAA Tournament bid for the third consecutive season.
“Kaleb Johnson played in the U.S. Amateur this summer and was an All-Big Ten player a year ago, and then James Piot was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, so we have two very solid starters there,” Lubahn said. “Andrew Walkerhas been a consistent starter for us then we’ve got a couple new guys that I think are going to play a lot. It’s a pretty good group and think it has the chance to be one of the best teams we’ve had in while.”
Johnson, a junior, had three top-five finishes a season ago while recording the fifth-best single-season average in school history at 72.62. Piot started in all 12 tournaments in 2017-18, while Walker missed just one.
The Spartans had seven top-five finishes last year, which included a win at the Big Ten Match Play Championships.
MSU will begin its season Sept. 9-10 at the Gopher Invitational in Independence, Minnesota, for the sixth consecutive year. Two weeks later, they’ll compete in the first of four new tournaments on the schedule – The Windon, Sept. 23-24 in Lake Forest, Illinois.
The Spartans will head back to the Erin Hills Intercollegiate in Erin, Wisconsin, for the second straight year, Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
Michigan State returns to the Fighting Irish Classic, Oct. 7-8 in South Bend, Indiana, for the first time since winning the tournament in 2014.
The Quail Valley Intercollegiate in Vero Beach, Florida, has been a familiar – and successful – stop on the Spartans’ schedule as they’ve won two of the last three tournaments and placed second in 2017. This year’s event at the Quail Valley Golf Club will take place Oct. 14-16.
The final tournament of the fall will be Oct. 27-28 in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the UNCG/Grandover Collegiate.
“It’s going to be really important that the guys manage the first part of the year because we’re going to get going right out of the box and go hard until October,” Lubahn said. “Our guys have had pretty good summers, so they’ll be ready.”
The Spartans have won two of the last three Big Ten Match Play Championship last season and will look for their third title when they begin the spring schedule, Feb. 8-9, at the event in Palm Coast, Florida.
MSU will host the Colleton River Collegiate, March 4-5, and then head west for the Desert Mountain Intercollegiate just a few days later, March 9-10, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The fourth new tournament of the year for MSU will be March 23-24 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with the Tar Heel Invitational.
“I think it’s important that we always mix it up with some new events, depending on how they fit in the calendar,” Lubahn said. “I think we’re excited about going to Notre Dame and Grandover in the fall. Spring break is going to be a really cool experience because we host on the front end in South Carolina and then go to Arizona on the back end.”
The Robert Kepler Intercollegiate, April 19-20 in Columbus, Ohio, will serve as the final tueneup for the league championship. This year’s Big Ten Championships will be played at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, April 26-28.
NCAA Regionals will take place May 12-15 and the 2018 NCAA Championships will be played at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas, May 24-29.
Lubahn and the Spartans will also be expecting contributions from newcomers Troy Taylor II and Donnie Trosper. Taylor, a freshman is the National Junior Golf Scoreboard’s No. 1 ranked player in Ohio in the 2018 class. Trosper is a senior transfer that provides the Spartans some additional experience as he was a two-time American Athletic all-conference selection at UCF.
“We’re still pretty young, but we have enough experience now where youth shouldn’t be a problem,” Lubahn said. “I think this is a pivot point for us because this group will lead us into the next 3-4 years. These are all big-time recruits who have watched the program grow and now they’re going to take us to the next level.”
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