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Boys’ golf season tees off with new coach and promising talent

As the greens are groomed and the fairways await, the Tea Area High School boys’ golf team is gearing up for an exciting season under the guidance of first-year coach Brock Murphy. With a rich golfing background and an impressive playing career, Murphy is excited to lead the team that has seen huge success under the direction of former head coach, Jason Sudegna.

Murphy’s connection with the game runs deep.

“As many people know, I played my high school golf at Tea Area. I was an accomplished player and won two state team titles in 2016 and 2018, while also capturing the individual title in 2018,” he shares. His journey continued with collegiate golf at Northwestern College (Orange City, IA), where he set records and earned multiple accolades.

At the end of his time at Northwestern, Murphy held the record for the school’s lowest round record at 65, the lowest single season scoring average, the lowest career scoring average and earned First Team All-Conference honors three times along with All-Region selection in 2023.

His experience both as a player and coach brings a wealth of knowledge to the team.

“I still play competitively quite a bit and work hard to perfect my game. When it comes to coaching, majority of teaching in golf has been with kids in the ages of 8-13,” said Murphy. He brings a strong foundation of golf instruction to Tea Area, having worked with young golfers in various capacities, including Jason Sudenga’s Kids camps and PGA Junior League at Willow Run Golf Course.

The Titans enter the season on the back of an impressive last season, where Keeton Newborg secured the State A Champion title. Newborg, a senior, will be back this season to lead with leadership and experience.

Others returning this year include Derek Anderson and Brady Sabers, both of whom competed at State along with Newborg. Murphy also highlights upcoming talents, including Harper Schnabel and Quentin Maag, both eighth graders who are making waves with their dedication to the game. Schnabel is a transfer from Aberdeen Roncalli and Murphy is excited to see what he brings to the team.

“He is a great kids, a great head on his shoulders and he loves golf,” said Murphy. Murphy is also excited to see Maag continue to progress throughout the season.

“He seems to be getting better everyday. After qualifying on Monday, he went right to the range,” said Murphy. “He loves golf, he loves the process and I am excited for these two as they will make a huge impact on our team.”

The team’s strengths lie in their experience and determination.

Murphy points out, “A lot of these kids play competitive golf in the summer and have played in big events so it will definitely be of help. I think another strength of this team is that they want to win. They hate it when they play bad and they just want to be first. That “killer” instinct of this team is here, and they just want to raise that trophy come October which I fully believe they can,” said Murphy. “Another strength is that we have a lot of really good ball strikers on the team. A lot of fairways are hit, and they hit a lot of green in regulation. Its very easy to shoot good scores with that combination.”

However, like any team, there are areas of improvement to focus on.

“We struggle on the greens,” Murphy admits, highlighting putting as a key concern. He believes that focused practice can transform this aspect of their game. Preparation and readiness for every tournament are also high on the agenda, as the team aims to dominate every event they participate in.

“Being prepared for each and every event is key, and while it is important we play at regions, we should prepare for every tournament like it is regions and go out and try to dominate,” said Murphy. “That’s my goal for the guys.”

As the season unfolds, there are certain rival teams to keep an eye on, including Dakota Valley and Vermillion. Murphy has his sights set on important matches and tournaments, such as the AA Tournament at Brookings on Sept. 11, the AA Tournament at Willow Run on Aug. 29, Regions at Elk Point on Sept. 25 and of course the State Tournament on Oct. 2 and 3.

Looking ahead, Murphy is optimistic and has set ambitious goals for the team.

“My big team goal is to win the state championship. I think we are fully capable and a lot of the kids including my self have played the state course and a lot of them love it,” Murphy states confidently. “My short term goal for these guys would just prepare for every event like its state. Getting in habits are good and embracing the jitters is huge. I always argue that being nervous is an amazing thing. So essentially I want them to be comfortable with the uncomfortable,” he added.

But beyond the game, Murphy’s focus extends to shaping well-rounded individuals. He emphasizes the importance of character, camaraderie, and embracing challenges, on and off the course.

“I just want them to be good people, be good students, be good friends,” said Murphy. “If we can do that, this team will do amazing things.”

The Titans’ season got under way this week at the West Central Invitational on Monday, Aug. 14. Despite the tough windy conditions, the Titans started the season with success, taking the team title at West Central with a team score of 323.

Anderson won the individual championship title at the Early Bird Meet with a score of 71 on the day. Anderson shot five birdies on the day scoring one under par on the front nine (35) and even on the second (36).

Newborg also medaled at West Central, earning a tie for fourth with an 80 on the day. Newborg shot two birdies, and recorded a 43 on the front nine and a 37 on the back. Schnabel also medaled, finishing in a tie for 12th. He shot an 86 on the day (40, 46). CJ Slack tied with Schnabel for 12th also shooting an 86 (42, 44). Sabers tied for 28th with a 91 (46, 45), and Maag tied for 37th with a 94 (53, 41).

They team also competed at the Madison Invite on Tuesday, Aug. 15, winning the team title there as well with a school record of 313. Anderson led the team once again with a 74 (37, 37), giving him second. Sabers took fifth with a 77 (38. 39) and Newborg finished in a tie for seventh with an 80 (40, 40).

Schnabel shot an 82 (42, 40) to take 16th, Maag an 84 (37, 47) to finish 22nd, and Slack an 87 (44, 43) to finish 28th.

Winning the Madison Invite was Chamberlain’s Dakota Munger who shot a 72 on the day.

The team will be at Dell Rapids on Monday, Aug. 21 and will compete in the Dakota Valley Invite at the Two Rivers Golf Course on Wednesday, Aug. 23. An Invite at Willow Run on Tuesday, Aug. 29 wraps up their August competitions.

Team members this season include: Keeton Newborg, Derek Anderson, Brady Sabers, Fyrst Henriksen, Ashton Hoover, CJ Slack, Ryder Eichmann, Quentin Maag, Carson Case, Gavin Shawd, Blake Lundin, Mason Hoover, Harper Schnabel, Jadon Johanneson, Leo Rozum, Colt Kelling, Sawyer Slack, Ryker Herman, Hadley Rand, Jaxson Drury, Jack Munson, Isaiah Hlavka, Landry Coy, and Aiden Johnsen.

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