The Air Force golf team opens its 2010-11 season Sept. 19-20, as it hosts the 42nd-annual Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational at the Eisenhower Golf Club - Blue Course. This year's field features 16 other teams from across the West, including MWC rivals Colorado State, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming.
The Falcons open the year with an exceptionally young squad, which features five sophomores and six freshmen on the 16-man roster. Among the leaders for this year's group is team captain Kyle Bailey, the Falcons' lone senior. The Austin, Texas, native took a few moments to answer some questions about this weekend's tournament, along with expectations for the coming year:
As the senior captain on a rather young team, how has your role changed from when you were just a member of the team? It's much different than what I felt it was last year. Besides the coaching staff, there's no one for me to look to for setting the example or trying to provide guidance to the rest of the team--it's all me, which is a bit of a different feeling.
What are the advantages of opening the season at home? Starting the season at home is great for our team. Knowing the golf course is a very important advantage in our sport and since we play the Blue Course all the time we're very familiar with it. This gives us a chance to kick the season off on a good foot since we have the home course advantage.
How do you feel about your preparation and the team's preparation for the first event? Our preparation has been great over the past month and a half since we started practice for the season. Everyone has been very motivated by the rest of the team to become better, and as a result we've had some great practices and qualifiers.
What are the team's goals for this week? Our ultimate goal for this week is to win. It's been a few years since we have been able to capture our home title and we would love to get it back this weekend.
How about your personal goals? Winning the team title is all that matters to me. It's going to take a good performance from everyone to accomplish that, with such a strong field coming to this year's event.
What areas of your game have you been working on most? My short game. If I can get up and down consistently, then I can put up some good numbers.
Who on the team do you think will have a breakout season this year? That's tough. I have seen so many great things from most everyone on the team in just this first month and a half. It makes me very excited to see what we can accomplish in some of our upcoming tournaments. I expect sophomore Andrew Hoops to have a great season. He had a very solid freshman year and I think he will do great things this season.
Which tournament on the schedule are you most looking forward to? The Service Academy is one that I think everyone looks forward to. It is such a great atmosphere to play in, that it is hard not to get excited about it. Another tournament that I enjoy every year is the Oak Hills Invitational which is held in February in San Antonio, Texas. I played the course several times in my junior career, which may be why I enjoy it so much.
What are your plans after graduation? I am hoping to get a slot to go to the Air Force Institute of Technology to get my masters in Computer Science, but if that doesn't work out I'm going to be a Cyberspace Operations Officer. I'll be going to Biloxi, Miss., for training after graduation.