Prater setting lofty goals
Only a freshman, Prater not fazed by playing in NCAA golf regional
Colin Prater is only a freshman, but he has big goals for his first NCAA regional golf tournament.
The Colorado Mesa golfer aims to score low enough in the NCAA Division II South Central Region three-round tournament Monday through Wednesday at Grey Rock Golf Club in Austin, Texas, to qualify for the national championships in two weeks.
“That was a goal when I set out for the spring was to qualify for regionals,” Prater said. “Another goal I made was to be an All-American. Another goal was to win a couple tournaments. I’m playing well, so I’ve just got to keep working toward that All-American goal, play well at regionals and go to nationals.”
Prater qualified for the NCAA South Central Region as the top individual. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference freshman of the year has three wins and two runner-up finishes in 10 tournaments this season. He has a 71.78 stroke average.
“I wanted to push myself for sure,” Prater said. “I wanted to see how much better I could become. I feel like lofty goals are the only way to get to that.”
Prater managed to win a tournament in the fall portion of the season, but had a rough start to the spring season.
He placed 35th in the St. Edward’s Invitational on the same course as regionals, then was 40th in another tournament.
“I didn’t play well in Texas or Kansas,” Prater said. “We had a couple weeks off to work on my game. We went to Palm Springs (California) during our spring break. I worked on my game and found something.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball well. I wasn’t getting up and down, I wasn’t putting well. The two weeks gave me time to work on the fundamentals and basics and just put the ball in the hole.”
Prater parlayed what he learned into back-to-back wins in the Mustang Intercollegiate in Phoenix and the Wolfpack Invitational in Pueblo.
Two weeks ago, Prater tied for second in the RMAC Championships.
“I putted really well, but I didn’t hit a whole lot of greens, so I didn’t give myself any chances to make putts.”
Prater and the Mavericks played on the regional course earlier this spring.
“Having experience playing it, knowing where you can hit the ball and where you can miss gives you reassurance when you’re standing on a tee box,” Prater said. “If I push it right, I’m OK. Confidence on the tee box makes it a lot easier.”
The top two individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the national championships May 19-23 at the Meadows Golf Course in Allendale, Michigan.
Prater joins Brandon Bingaman as the only Colorado Mesa men’s player to qualify for an NCAA regional.