By TIM TROWERMail Tribune
By TIM TROWER
Among the first things Daniel Engle did when the college golf schedules came out was identify dates when his Utah team would go head-to-head with his former team, Oregon State, in tournaments.
Engle, a former Phoenix High state champion, transferred from the Corvallis university to Utah after winter term. He immediately joined the Utes' golf team for a couple of events last spring.
A sophomore in eligibility, he figures to be in the mix for regular play this season on a young Utah team as it embarks on its first season in the Pac-12 Conference.
The Utes and Beavers will be in a tournament together in October in California, and they'll meet again next spring when OSU is host to the Pac-12 championships at Trysting Tree Golf Club.
"That's what I'm looking forward to a lot," says Engle, who a year ago lived with a handful of Beaver golfers during fall and winter terms.
"I still keep in touch with most of the guys on the team over there," he says. "They would go to practice and I wasn't able to. It's pretty motivating to realize I'll be playing against those guys."
Engle walked on at Oregon State after winning the 2009 Class 4A state crown with a record score of 10 under par for two rounds at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.
He was on the roster and practiced regularly with the team but didn't compete in tournaments. When coach Brian Watts left for Army last summer and was replaced by Jon Reehorn, Engle's status changed.
He would have to try out for the team again.
Soured on the notion, Engle began looking for another place to play even before the tryout in mid-fall. In the tryout, about 10 prospects played three rounds, with the winner gaining the lone roster spot.
Engle, who said he played primarily to keep his options open, finished second.
He had considered transferring to Boise State, but the Broncos, he said, couldn't put together a scholarship package in the middle of the school year. He was close to heading to Sacramento State, but then received word he would be welcome at Utah, a recipient of one of the many email inquiries he'd sent.
Hooking up with Utah was "a random thing," says Engle, who starts school Monday in Salt Lake City. "I'd never been here, never visited, but it was a Division I school and it was gonna be in the Pac-12, and I really liked the coach."
"A big part of going and playing at Utah was to prove myself," he says. "I know I can compete with some of the best college players."
Early this month, Engle won the amateur division of the Sasquatch Pro-Am at Centennial Golf Club by one shot over Doug Quinones, who will be a senior on the University of Kansas golf team, and by three shots over former Beaver standout Mike Barry.
Engle's two-round total of 4-under-par 140 — he twice shot 70 — was bettered by only two players in the professional division.
Prior to that, Engle played in several USGA events with so-so results. He made it to match play in the Oregon Amateur, but lost his first match. He played well in the U.S. Amateur qualifier, but suspect course management and a quadruple bogey undermined him.
At Utah, he hopes to build on his limited play of last spring. In two tournaments, his stroke average for six rounds was 78.7.
In a team tryout prior to the Mountain West Conference championships, he was one of the top qualifiers. But because he had joined the program late, he and coach Randall McCracken agreed Engle shouldn't take the place of a senior who had been with the team for his career.
Four of the Utes' top five players were seniors last season. Engle likes his chances to occupy one of the leading spots in the rotation but, he says, a half-dozen solid recruits are coming in.
"It'll be interesting to see what happens," he says.
One thing that likely won't happen is Engle participating in his two favorite tournaments later this month, the Rogue Valley Stroke Play Championships at Centennial and the Southern Oregon Golf Championships at Rogue Valley Country Club.
He mulled the idea of driving 12 hours, playing at Centennial, then driving straight back to Utah, but it might be too much of a haul.
He won the stroke-play tournament in 2009 and was runner-up in the SOGC — in which he used to caddie for his father — the same year.
SPOTTERS AND CADDIES: Spotters are needed for the Southern Oregon Golf Championships, and kids 10 and over wishing to caddie can attend a school just before the tournament, which is Aug. 30 to Sept. 5 at Rogue Valley Country Club.
Spotters will be paid and must be at least 16.
The caddie school is at 9 a.m. Aug. 27. No experience is necessary, but prospective caddies must be able to carry a golf bag. There is no fee for the school.
Tournament caddies will be chosen on a first-come, first-served basis, but those who attend the school receive preference when assignments are made.
To sign up or for more information on spotting or caddie school, call the pro shop at 541-772-4050.
Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org