On the heels of Oakland’s appearance in the Horizon League Golf Tournament, men’s golf Head Coach Nick Pumford is gearing the team up to defend the Horizon League Championship.
Pumford, who became Oakland’s head coach in 2016, has led Oakland to three Horizon League Championships, including a pair in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. Pumford spoke to the Oakland Post as he outlined another big season for the men’s golf team.
Though the prospect of winning his second back-to-back title looms over the next few weeks, Coach Pumford looks to take everything one tournament at a time, with his eyes on winning the upcoming Rutherford Intercollegiate Invitational on April 16-17.
“The number one goal is to win, I think that’s first and foremost,” Coach Pumford said regarding the Invitational. “But this is also a way to prepare for the Horizon League Championship.”
Though the Golden Grizzlies are the defending Horizon League Champions, the number one seed this year went to the Wright State Raiders, which Coach Pumford sees as an opportunity.
“This year is a different scenario for us. We’re the defending champions, but Wright State is the one seed this year, and they’ve beaten us all four times they’ve played us,” Pumford said. “But this also takes the target off of our backs in the tournament and put it on theirs. Wright State is the team under the most pressure, so it gives us a chance to go out and play.”
Though unaffected by the global pandemic this season, Coach Pumford noted how all of the team is vaccinated and following protocols ahead of the next two tournaments, and ready to defend the championships. The pandemic, though looming, hasn’t affected the team as they’ve been available all season and look to be ready for the championships.
Along with the team’s availability, Coach Pumford also spoke highly of senior Thomas Giroux, who looks to set records and lead Oakland to back-to-back championships.
“One bright spot of the season was our Senior Thomas Giroux, who will break every school record by the end of the season. He hasn’t placed lower than 7th and has won every individual golf award,” Pumford said.
Giroux, who entered Oakland in 2017, looks to lead the Golden Grizzlies into the Horizon League Tournament.
Throughout the regular season, Oakland battled some of their toughest opponents, including a win against Horizon League rival Cleveland State, as well as being swept by the aforementioned Wright State. The Golden Grizzlies have persevered from the Elliot Cup in September to the Craft Farms Collegiate Invitational in March. Oakland’s focus and determination this season came from impeccable coaching as well as some of the hardest working athletes in the Horizon League.
Though the season didn’t result in a top seed for Oakland, Coach Pumford and the men’s golf team are as confident as ever heading into the final regular-season tournament. Though Wright State is the top-ranked team, Oakland brings a mix of talent, poise and experience that will confidently challenge the talented opponent.
The Horizon League Championships will take place in Honey-in-the-Hills, Florida on April 24-26.