BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University golfer Wes Gates has started strong this fall, winning two of the first three tournaments in which he has played. The senior from Novi, Mich., said this fast start actually began in May, when he won the Horton Smith Invitational at Detroit Golf Club.
“There were 93 players, and it’s an invite-only tournament, so they get the top amateurs from Michigan,” Gates said. “After that I had a terrific summer — I went on to do things I didn’t even expect out of myself.
"So when I came to BG, I just wanted to keep the momentum going.”
Gates got his fall season started by tying for third place at the Marshall Invitational, firing rounds of 73-69-65 to post a three-round 207. He followed that effort with a dominating performance at the John Piper Intercollegiate that BG hosted at Stoneridge Golf Club. His rounds of 66-69-71 gave him a three-round score of 206, putting him 12 shots ahead of the rest of the field, and the only player to finish under par.
“I had high expectations going into the week,” Gates said. “I had a huge first day at the tournament, and that gave me a five-shot lead going into the final day.
“That allowed me to relax a little more, just go out and play my game. That gave me good confidence and experience.”
Gates followed that up with a win at the Cardinal Intercollegiate hosted by the University of Louisville. He posted rounds of 70-67-72 for a 209 and a two-shot victory.
While new BG coach Kevin Farrell has been impressed with Gates’ play, he also has appreciated the senior’s work in helping build the program.
“Coming in, it’s intimidating as a new coach, but Wes has been more than a fantastic player — he has been a great leader,” Farrell said. “He has helped me get the team structured and organized the way I want it to be.
“I can’t say enough about how great he has been playing. But the leadership aspect has been phenomenal as well.”
Now Gates and Farrell are working on a new task: Setting new goals for Gates, whose stroke average of 69.1 shots per round ranks seventh-best among all Division I golfers nationally.
“One of my individual goals was to win a college tournament — so I’ve already accomplished that goal,” Gates said. “Now we’re changing goals on the fly.
“I want to win more, but in golf you can only take it one at a time. … I can’t control things six months into the future; I can only go into next week’s tournament and focus on being the best player I can be in that event.”
FAST START: The BG volleyball team also has put together a fast start to Mid-American Conference play, winning its first four league matches after a 6-7 start to this season.
“I told people before league play started that we might be the best team with a losing record in volleyball,” first-year coach Danijela Tomic said. “We had a very tough non-conference schedule.
“But we kept things positive with the team, and we kept moving in the right direction.”
The result was a victory in its MAC opener against Ohio, the preseason pick to win the East Division, followed by wins against Kent State, Akron, and Buffalo.
“We didn’t set a goal to start the [MAC] season 4-0,” Tomic said. “Instead we focused on the process, trying to get better in practice every day and then focusing on one point, one set and one match at a time.”
The Falcons look to continue as the league’s last unbeaten team, but will be challenged by home matches against Miami on Thursday and West Division co-leader Western Michigan on Saturday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. in the Stroh Center.
“We know that no one will take us lightly any more,” Tomic said.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.