After tying for eighth in the state in 2010, the Loyola boys golf team graduated three of its top six players, including No. 1 Matt Murphy.
But the three returnees from that team have elevated their game, and a few varsity newcomers have proven their worth, all of which has head coach Tim Kane thinking about the possibility of another strong postseason.
“Things are going pretty well,” he said. “We’re still in the process of figuring things out before we get to the conference tournament, regionals and sectionals. Kids are playing well, getting better. I think we have a real shot to go far in the state tournament.”
One of the major reasons for Kane’s optimism has been the play of junior Michael Hultquist, who was the team’s No. 2 golfer a year ago.
“(Hultquist) really has stepped up and is playing well,” the coach said. “He was battling a little bit of a back issue earlier in the season, but he seemed to work though that.”
The highlight of Hultquist’s campaign thus far came on Sept. 10, when he won the Providence Invite at The Sanctuary in New Lenox. The meet ended with Hultquist (even-par 72) in a five-way tie for first place, before he birdied the first playoff hole to earn the crown.
Behind Hultquist, senior Jack Haberkorn and sophomore Michael Abrahamson have turned in solid campaigns. Haberkorn shot an impressive 72 in a match against Prospect, while Abrahamson has made a smooth transition to varsity from the frosh/soph team.
Perhaps a true indication of Loyola’s depth came last weekend, when without Haberkorn (illness) or Abrahamson (family commitment) the team still finished sixth at the 25-team Wheeling Invite at Chevy Chase Country Club.
Hultquist shot a 76 and placed ninth at the event. Ramblers senior Tom Kennedy finished with an 80 and junior teammate Michael Kennedy had an 83.
“(Kennedy) is playing some good golf right now,” Kane said. “Coming right out of tryouts, his game was shaky. But he seems to have found it. (Hickey) is a player who definitely has potential to be there (on the postseason roster).”
Kane said he has been rotating his Nos. 4, 5, and 6 golfers, going with the hot hand.
The coach has less than two weeks to settle on his lineup for the Chicago Catholic Tournament, Sept. 29 at Cog Hill No. 3.