Thursday, June 4, 2015

NCAA Championship and Team Awards

The 2014-15 season has come to an end.  It is amazing how fast the year has gone by.  The team is now in the midst of finals for Spring quarter and will leave campus next week.  Here is a brief recap of the spring season.

After a solid fall and spring season, we once again qualified for NCAA Regionals.  81 Division I teams qualify for Regionals every year based on their ranking and win percentage.  With 6 Regional sites spread throughout the country and 13-14 teams at each site, 30 teams advance to the NCAA Championship by finishing in the top 5 at their regional.  This year we were sent to UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina where we were the number 2 seed in the field based on our Golfstat ranking. The team played well and we finished 2nd, comfortably inside the top 5.  We were led by Maverick McNealy who had his 6th win of the season.

After Regionals we had a short stay back on campus before returning to the Southeast for the NCAA Championship, which was held at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida.  We arrived just in time to watch the women's team win their first NCAA Championship as they were also playing at The Concession.  What a day!

The Concession proved to be a tough test for both the men and women as scores were higher than usual.  The course required good driving and pinpoint precision on approach shots to multi-tiered greens.  If the course itself were not difficult enough, it was also well protected by wildlife as alligators, snakes, armadillos and other animals make their homes on the course grounds.  See if you can spot the gator in the photo here!

The field was particularly strong this year as each of the nation's top 18 teams qualified as well as 12 other teams, most of which were in the top 30.  We got off to a tough start in the first round and put ourselves near the bottom of the field. We bounced back with a better round on the second day, but were only able to move up a couple of spots.  After 3 rounds, the field is cut to the top 15 teams before being cut to the top 8 the following day.  After four rounds, the top 8 teams go to match play.  Despite being on the outside looking in, we felt we had a good opportunity to make the cut if we had a strong 3rd round. While we moved up several spots from a good 3rd round, we were unable to move up into the top 15 and missed the cut for the final round of stroke play.

While we were disappointed to miss match play, we look back on a very solid season this year with a young team that saw 2 freshmen, 2 sophomores, and 1 junior in the starting lineup for much of the spring season.  We will be sad to lose senior captain, Patrick Grimes, who is graduating with a degree in Psychology.  Patrick will be trying his mettle in the professional ranks and we are excited to track his play.  On the other hand, we are excited to welcome three hungry freshmen who will join the team in the fall.  Here are a couple of highlights from the spring.

  • 2015 Conference Champions.  We followed up the 2014 win by winning again, this time at Palouse Ridge Golf Course at Washington State University.  We were led by Maverick McNealy who won the individual title by an incredible 10 shots aided by a final round 61
  • Maverick was named the 2015 Haskins Award winner given out to the best player in college golf.  The final tally: 6 wins, 1 2nd, 1 3rd, 1 4th and four other solid events
  • All 5 of our eligible student-athletes were named to the Pac-12 All-Academic team
  • Each of our 8 players were in the starting lineup at some point this year

Additionally, team awards were given out today.  Every year the team votes on 4 main awards: the Most Valuable Player, the Most Improved Player, the "Spooney," and the "Tradition."  A 5th award is given to the freshman with the low tournament stroke average.  Here are the results. 

  • MVP: Maverick McNealy
  • MIP:  Jeffrey Swegle
  • Spooney: Dominick Francks
    • The Spooney is given to the student-athlete who displays the most tenacity and has a never-give-up-attitude 
  • Tradition: Patrick Grimes
    • The Tradition is given to the student-athlete who displays leadership, strong work ethic, academic excellence, and an overall appreciation of the University and program
  • Low Freshman Scoring Average: Jeffrey Swegle and Franklin Huang 
    • Incredibly, both Jeff and Franklin had the exact same scoring average.  They each played 28 tournament rounds and took a total of 2026 strokes each.  Thus they both had a tournament average of 72.36

That's it for the 2014-15 season.  Stay tuned for updates on the team's play in their tournaments this summer!  Go Card!