Steven Jones was happiest Sunday when the conditions were at their worst.
During the first round of the Claud Jacobs Intercollegiate on Sunday morning, the sun was out, and the wind was relatively still at the Victoria Country Club. And Jones, a sophomore for the Jaguars, was wild, shooting an 81 in the first round of the tournament.
"I was thinking way too much," he said. "I had to go back to what David Cook said last night and just trust it."
Cook, a former mental training coach for the San Antonio Spurs and an expert on the mental aspects of sports, spoke about mental preparedness. And Jones said he was enthralled.
"It hit me. It hit me good," he said of the speech.
The Jaguars, though, were derailed by an opening-round team score of 321, the second-worst round for any team in the two rounds the men's field played Sunday.
UHV sits in last place in the tournament, four strokes behind 11th place Grandview and 24 strokes behind the leaders, Cal State San Marcos and Texas Wesleyan, which are at a team 28-over 604 after two rounds and will battle it out for the tournament title Monday morning.
Oklahoma City (29-over) and Northwood (32-over) are also lurking in the team standings.
The Jaguars rebounded with a 309 in the second round, led by Jones' 1-over 73 on the second pass in the afternoon, which included an eagle on the par-5 13th hole to open the round.
By that point, the sky was overcast, and the wind picked up to a brisk 20 mph to the west. It suited Jones just fine.
"It made me better," he said. "I had to concentrate more and hit the shots I needed to rather than just hit it around. I had to pick my shots."
That's a good thing, too. UHV coach Brian Williamson noted the UHV golfers will need to be used to the type of conditions they saw Sunday afternoon.
When the Association of Independent Institutions tournament rolls around in late April, they will face similar conditions, although probably not as overcast.
Jones and fellow sophomore Vance Edwards are tied in the individual standings at 22nd after each hitting a two-round score of 154.
The Kerrville native, along with Corpus Christi native Edwards, were the new faces on last year's team. This year, things have changed: Jones and Edwards are the veterans of a six-player team that features three freshmen and a junior transfer.
Many of the struggles, Williamson said, can be attributed to the team being young. The early round struggles are good for them, he said, because it allows them to see top-level golf at the NAIA level, adding that the team did not take advantage of its home-course advantage Sunday.
"They will need to learn what it takes to compete at the top level by late April, when our conference championship rolls around," Williamson said.
Jones said he has grown into his role as one of the leaders of the young Jaguars' team.
"I learned a lot from the four seniors on the team last year about how to progress and things like that," he said. "This year, we're kind of in more of the teaching kind of stage, helping the younger group understand the things I went through as a freshman."
So, what's the best advice he could give the young golfers at UHV?
"Just hit the ball. Don't think," Jones said. "Your swing's good enough. What you see is what you get."
• UHV ON THE COURSE: The first round was not kind to any of UHV's golfers. Edwards shot rounds of 78 and 76 to tie with Jones for 22nd. Also competing for UHV, Colton Martin shot rounds of 79 and 81, William Dawson-Hicks posted rounds of 84 and 79, while junior Jake Truss shot two rounds of 83 each. UHV medalist Jesse Acosta shot rounds of 88 and 89.
• LEADERS: Houston St. Thomas' Zach Cabra and Oklahoma City's Joss Gosling are currently leading the individual title race at 1-over for the tournament. Cabra was tied for the lead after the first round at 1-under but was 2-over in the second; Gossling was even par in the first round and 1-over for the second. The low round of the tournament was shot in the second round by Texas Wesleyan's Nathan Anderson and Oklahoma City's Anthony Marchesani, who each shot a 2-under 70 in the second round. Anderson is in second place at 2-over, and Marchesani is tied for third at 3-over. Anderson was the runner-up at the 2012 NAIA championship tournament last year.
• TEAM LEADERS: Cal State San Marcos and Texas Wesleyan share the lead heading into the final round, getting to the top of the leaderboard in similar fashion. Neither school has an individual in the top spot, but four of each team's five golfers are spread out among the top 15 of the tournament in each round. Cal State San Marcos was led by Steve Gouirand, who posted a 147 and is tied for fourth place.
• WEATHER REPORT: Weather figures to be similar to Sunday for Monday's round. Temperature at tee time will be 64 degrees, with clouds and wind rolling in about 11 a.m. Monday's round for the men's tournament tees off at 8:30 a.m. with a shotgun start.
• LIVE SCORES: Follow the tournament live at golfstat.com.