Huskies from around the world unite to become a top-5 team 

by Shane Lantz  


UW men’s golfers, from left, Justin Hopkins, Teddy Lin, Petr Hruby, Taehoon Song, Bo Peng, Drew Warford and Finn Koelle at the 2023 Husky Invitational. (Courtesy of UW Athletics)

For the Washington men’s golf team, with diversity has come great strength.  

The Huskies, currently ranked No. 5 in the national polls, have a roster filled with players from around the world. Led by Ireland-born head coach Alan Murray, the team’s two top golfers, No. 18-ranked Petr Hruby and No. 19 Taehoon Song, hail from the Czech Republic and South Korea, respectively.  

German freshman Finn Koelle and Teddy Lin of Taiwan are the other two ranked golfers on the Huskies’ roster, which also features Justin Bai and Bo Peng of China. UW’s two U.S.-born players are Justin Hopkins of Danville, Calif., and Drew Warford of Snoqualmie.  

In all, six countries are represented on UW’s roster, and while Hruby admits that there are occasional “cultural challenges” that pop up, the team has formed a close bond. They might come from very different backgrounds, but there is one obvious thing that brings all of the Huskies together.  

“I feel like the one thing that unites us all is golf. … All of us, we love it,” Hruby said. “Whenever we need to find like a common topic, it’s always golf, and we have so much to say about it. It’s kind of like through that, we kind of even branch out into other conversations.” 

So far, that approach has the Huskies in a strong place as they get rolling on the spring season.  

The Huskies ended the fall in solid fashion, with top-four finishes in each of their four tournaments. They walloped the competition at the Husky Invitational in mid-September, winning the title by 26 strokes, as Song and Hruby finished first and second overall, respectively, and the team shot an 824.  

The start of spring golf was a bit more challenging, as UW’s preseason preparations were often hampered by poor January weather, but the Huskies have responded well in the weeks since.  

UW kicked off spring with a fifth-place finish at the Southwestern Invitational in Westlake Village, Calif., in late January, and tied for fourth place this past weekend at the Amer Ari Invite in Waimea, Hawaii, with Koelle tying for second place in the standings with a score of 198, 18 strokes under par.  

One thing that Murray believes has worked in UW’s favor this year is its wealth of experience. The Huskies are an old team by most standards, with two fifth-year seniors in Hruby and Peng, along with two traditional seniors, two juniors and two freshmen on the roster.  

In a college golf world that is “unbelievably competitive,” Murray sees UW’s advanced age as a valuable resource on the course. Most have already played in and had success in big-time tournaments, so the pressure of taking on some of the best golfers around doesn’t affect them quite as much as it would a younger squad.  

“We’re an experienced team this year and those guys have had a lot of success and played a lot of tournaments,” Murray said. “They’ve won a Pac-12 championship — very accomplished and polished players. So anytime you got a bunch of talented and accomplished players on your team, you’re going to have a really good team. I think that’s certainly true of us this year.” 

The Huskies have several players who are seemingly destined for the pros, with Hruby and Song atop the list. So far this season, Song has three rounds with a score of 65 or under, and with a top-20 ranking, he is confident of his ability to succeed at the next level.  

“I’d love to give it a shot, but it’s just scary that I just don’t know where I’m going to be after college, because that’s just golfers life,” Song said. “… I might go try out Asian tour, Korean tour, Japan tour. I have no clue. I might go to Canada. No clue, but I’m going to give a shot. I think it’s worth it to give a shot. I think I’m good enough.” 

Hruby and Song credit Murray for helping create a fun and competitive program atmosphere, and both are glad they chose to become Huskies, due in large part to Murray’s even-keeled approach and funny personality.  

He is highly competitive and you don’t want to be on his bad side, Hruby says, but Murray’s abilities as a teacher and a leader have helped elevate the program to its current lofty spot near the top of the national rankings.  

“Golf is kind of unrewarding in this sense where, you can be putting a lot of work into it, but the results might not show right away,” Hruby said. “And I think he’s pretty good at understanding that. … I mean, I love playing for him.” 

Though UW’s golfers are from different backgrounds, Murray agrees that golf acts as a unifying force. They come from all over the world, and through their love of the game and the success on the course, Murray says they have become a “harmonious group.” 

“I would say the team chemistry is really good and they get on really well,” Murray said. “As a coach and someone that sees them every day, it’s pretty easy group to be around. They’re fun, they’re competitive. They’re good kids. I think anytime you have good people, I believe, great things are possible.” 

The Huskies will travel to La Quinta, Calif., next week for the Prestige at PGA West Tournament.  

(This article originally appeared on The Seattle Times website. Used here by permission. Additional articles by Seattle Times staff reporter Shane Lantz can be found here.)