Maryland men’s golf has finished last in two of its three competitions this year. The Terps finished second-to-last in the remaining competition.
Despite a slow start, John Phillips views this year as vital for the team’s development.
Six of Maryland’s nine golfers are underclassmen this year, including three freshmen. Phillips expressed Maryland is consistently one of the youngest teams at competitions. He hopes with time, the Terps will continue to grow and start to see better results.
“We have a lot of young guys in the lineup and they’re gaining experience,” said Philips, who is in his second year with the Terps. “We’ll be uniquely positioned in having a lot of young guys gain experience where some other programs right now aren’t really in that position.”
Freshman Yang Kuang has impressed in all three events. Kuang, who is originally from Shenzhen, China, had his best performance at the Quail Valley Collegiate Invitational, finishing the three-round event four over par.
Kuang previously played in several professional events, but Phillips noted there is a learning curve to the collegiate sport.
“There are some things that are different about college golf … Just basic logistics of shotgun starts versus tee times, things like that,” Phillips said. “There certainly is a learning curve, but really happy that those guys have been able to step in and get those experiences.”
Sophomore Armand Papaziani is also seeing improvement after entering the season as an “inexperienced sophomore,” Phillips said. Papaziani played in two of the Terps’ events so far this year, already matching the number he played in last year. His best finish so far was also at the Quail Valley Invitational, where he shot six over par.
Phillips stated he’s seen Papaziani get more comfortable at each event, which bodes well for the team in the future.
Maryland’s only senior golfers were acquired by Phillips this past off-season. The Terps entered the summer with no seniors for 2023-24 before Phillips added graduate student Ben Cooper from Richmond and senior Jack Woods from Bryant.
Cooper has appeared in every invitational this season while Woods played in one.
Phillips said Cooper has influenced his young teammates in his first year with the program by assuming a leadership role and setting an example with his work ethic in practices.
Cooper, a graduate student, joined Maryland this past summer to play at an increased level of play compared to Richmond. He has led the Terps individually in two of their three events this season.
Junior Florian Huerlimann, the longest-tenured Terp on the roster, led Maryland in the third event at the Quail Valley Collegiate Championship.
Phillips said he’s seen Huerlimann grow as a leader and become more communicative with his teammates — an essential role on a young Maryland team.
“We had some conversations at the end of last spring about expectations of this program moving forward, and kind of how things would be in terms of practice and mentality,” Phillips said. “He totally bought into all of it.”
Phillips hopes Maryland can use the experiences it gains this fall to move on to what he believes is a “very balanced” schedule in the spring.
The Terps have one more competition at the Daniel Island Intercollegiate from Oct. 29 through Oct. 31 before turning the page to their offseason ahead of spring events.
“We have really talented guys on this team, who put themselves in position to get way under par and then it’s just getting over that hump [and] closing it out to build the confidence,” Philips said. “I have total belief in this group, that we can accomplish great things.”