Fifteenth place Ospreys earn best ranking since tenth place finish at the end of 2000

Spinnaker

The UNF golf team is five places from obtaining the highest team ranking in the Division I history of the program.

UNF’s golf team is the only athletic program at the school to win an NAIA title, as well as the first and only team to win an Atlantic Sun Conference Title. This year the team looks to take one step further in the effort to move UNF towards wining national championships, UNF golf Head Coach Scott Schroeder said.

“It’s important for us to remember that just like in the NFL, a good start doesn’t always mean anything at the end of the season,” he said. “However, I think we would all consider it a disappointing year if we didn’t make the field of 30 at the NCAA Finals.”

The team has already shown improvement this year after moving from the 57th place team ranking in the Sagarin Golf Weekly standings at the end of the 2009 season to 15 in the second week of the season this year. The team displayed this improvement in a 2nd place finish at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate Sept. 16 after finishing ninth in 2008.  UNF’s highest Sagarin rating came at the end of the 2000 season, when the team was ranked in the country. Since then, UNF has dropped somewhat in the ratings, but this year’s team looks very similar to the team from 2000, Schroeder, who played at UNF from 1996 to 1999, said.

“We’ve been getting noticeably better for four or five years now, and because of that we’ve been able to recruit better players,” Schroeder said.

One of those better players is sophomore Sean Dale, who the Sagarin ratings named as the number one male college golfer in the country Sept. 24. Dale and freshman teammate Kevin Phalean, who is ranked 127th in the Sagarin ratings, are leading the program score-wise right now, but Schroeder said things like that can change easily.

“We’ve got several guys on this team that can go out there and compete for the top spot any day,” Schroeder said. “We have a few older guys who had a rough start but look really strong and poised to break out at anytime.”

Although UNF plays in the less-renowned Atlantic Sun Conference, the golf team will have several opportunities to play against some of the top-ranked conferences.  UNF schedule looks almost the same as some of the schools in the SEC by playing Florida five times, Florida State three times, LSU five times and Ole Miss six times, Schroeder said.

In their conference, UNF’s hardest challenge will come from ETSU, although any team can win on any given day, as shown by the volleyball team’s surprise win at the 2009 ASun conference tournament, Schroeder said.  ETSU and UNF are very similar programs, with ETSU being year in and year out one of the top 40 teams in the country, Schroeder said.

With enough talent to compete for a national championship, the golf team will sneak on their competition this year, Dale said.