The Eastern Florida State College men's golf team heads into the NJCAA Division I National Championship Tournament with some confidence.
And why not, the Titans are coming off a win in the District IV Tournament and will be playing the national tournament on a course they know very well – Duran Golf Club in Viera.
"When you are the home team, you have an edge," Eastern Florida State College men's golf coach Jamie Howell said. "The one thing you have to do is make sure you don't turn that around and make it a pressure. This is our advantage and we have to use it. We know this course, we have played it in all winds, we have played it bouncy and fast and wet and sloppy. We aren't going to encounter anything we haven't seen, so don't sweat it."
Eastern Florida State College is making its 17th straight national tournament appearance and has finished in the top five the past three seasons and are hoping to be in the hunt once again this year.
"If we play how we know how to, we have an advantage. If we go in with confidence, we are just that much ahead of everyone else," freshman Ben Ramos said. "The way we are shaping up, it is looking really good."
The national tournament is set up a bit different than the tournaments during the season as the players will play 18 holes each day for four days rather than opening with 36 holes on the first day.
"You try to have them recognize that while it is 72 holes and our longest event of the year, it goes by quickly," Howell said. "Traditionally we play 36 holes on the first day and our second round is pretty good, well there is no afternoon round. You need to be good from the first tee shot to the last putt. You can't take your guard down because that is a shot and at the end of the week, whoever saves the most shots will be near the top."
At the District IV Tournament in Illinois, the Titans did just that, taking the lead in the second round and went on to win their fifth district title in the past seven years.
"It's nice to go out and win. We won the district preview in the fall and then went out and won the district title and now we won the national preview in the fall and have to go out and back up that win again," freshman Josh Stern said.
It won't be easy as the best teams in junior college golf will be playing for the title including defending champion Indian Hills Community College as well as Midland College, who comes in as the No. 1 team in the nation.
"It's a good field, there is probably seven or eight teams that can win it," Howell said. "I changed my lineup again and I think this is our strongest five. I like my five, we played the National Preview pretty well in the fall. We know the course well enough and I like our chances, but we have to go out and play."
The first round of the national tournament is Tuesday at Duran Golf Club with the final round scheduled for Friday. Fans can come out and watch the tournament for free at Duran Golf Club.