By: Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director
From time to time, Jacob Hicks’ father, Mike, stops by to help coach The Master’s University men’s golf team.
This, if it weren’t for Mike’s profession, might not be worth noting. But Mike has long been a caddie on the PGA Tour, and he was on the bag for Payne Stewart during the golfer’s 1999 U.S. Open victory. His input is appreciated by Jacob – who is in his second year as head coach – and by the athletes who populate his roster.
This week, the older and younger Hicks noticed something in Jack Dudeck’s backswing that was impacting the sophomore’s ability to strike the ball squarely. They suggested a tweak, and Dudeck reaped the benefits on the back nine Monday, the first day of the Lake Tahoe Intercollegiate in Incline Village, Nevada.
Dudeck was one of two Mustangs to shoot 2-under after the turn, helping the Mustangs mitigate the impact of a slow start and finish the day in second place in the four-team tournament.
Freshman Mitchell Briley also shot 2-under on the back nine and ended the day in third place, three shots off the lead. It made for a promising start to Briley’s third collegiate tournament. He has been one of TMU’s top three finishers in its previous two tournaments, though he was playing unattached in the season opener.
“He’s a very experienced tournament golfer,” Jacob Hicks said of Briley, who carded a 2-over Monday. “He has all the shots that a difficult course demands.”
This course comes with breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and fairways lined with towering trees. Dudeck was able to safely keep the ball out of his surroundings often enough to end the day in a tie for fourth place out of 21 golfers. He attributed his success to strong play with his irons and to the adjustment provided by the team’s father-son coaching combo.
“I was hitting my irons really well and had a ton of confidence,” Dudeck said. “Coach and his dad tweaked (my swing) this week before we came out here and that built into my confidence.”
Dudeck said the issue was connected to his backswing at the OUAZ Invite in Goodyear, Arizona, last week, when he shot a season-high 15-over and finished tied for 39th place.
“I was taking the club too far inside on the way back, which caused me to come a little over the top on the way through and hook it,” he said. “So I tried to feel like I was taking the club outside on the way back and feel the club move out to the right on the way through.”
The younger Hicks isn’t shy about the impact his dad has when he’s around the team.
“So glad to have him,” Jacob said. “Huge help.”
Josh Kehl was in eighth place Monday for Master’s, which will conclude the tournament on Tuesday.