High expectations surround the Nittany Lion golf team entering the 1999-2000 season. Penn State returns all its starters from last year's squad that broke or tied numerous team and individual records.
Matt Abbott, a redshirt junior, returns after a fabulous sophomore season in which he set a Penn State standard for season scoring average at 73.5, eclipsing the previous record of 73.9 set by Adam Decker in 1996-97.
The rest of the Lion lineup is still up for grabs as six golfers compete for the four available spots. Scott Phillis, the team's only returning senior, figures to be one of the Lions' top contributors along with Abbott. Phillis shot the second-best 72-hole total in Penn State history when he fired a 291 at last year's Big Ten Championships.
Mike Saporito, a redshirt junior, will also be counted on heavily this season.
"I think you are going to see the guys that are in their third year of eligibility step up and have great seasons, namely Abbott and Saporito," states Penn State head coach Greg Nye. "I think we have a good nucleus here, we have a fifth-year senior who will see a lot of action in Scott Phillis. Then we also have Latowski and Marshalek, who played most of the way last year. Additionally, Jeff Turton along with Abbott were named to the All-District team last season."
A heavy dose of District II competition during the fall season gave the Nittany Lions a good idea of where they rank among other district foes from the outset.
Penn State won team championships at two of the five tournaments in which it competed during the fall season. The Lions opened the season by claiming the title at the Navy Invitational. Phillis led Penn State on an individual basis as he won the event's individual title. Penn State's other team championship during the fall campaign came at the James Madison Invitational.
Abbott turned in the team's most impressive performance of the fall season when he became the the first Penn State golfer to win the individual title at the Big Ten heavy Northern Intercollegiate. The junior also led the team in scoring, posting a 72.3 stroke average.
The Lions spring schedule includes events that will feature Big Ten, District II and national competition.
Penn State will open up the spring season with a trip to the predominately Big Ten Silver Spring Shores Invitational in Ocala, Fla. The Lions will follow with the program's first-ever trip to Hawaii to compete against a national field in Kauai Collegiate Cup.
Upon returning to the mainland, the Nittany Lions will take part in three consecutive events heavy in Big Ten competition before wrapping up the regular season with their host tournament, the Rutherford Intercollegiate.
"I am excited about the diversity and the challenges that our schedule features," Nye explains. "Our number one goal is to advance past the NCAA Regionals and into the Finals at Auburn. I think that is something that we can achieve."