Freshman Golfer Qualifies for U.S. Open

Spinnaker

UNF freshman golfer Kevin Phelan, achieved a long time goal of his Monday afternoon after qualifying for the 2010 U.S. Open, set to take place June 17-20 in Pebble Beach, Calif.

Phelan, who has been trying to qualify for the Open since he was 15 years old, achieved his goal after tying for first place at the U.S. Open sectional tournament in Hope Sound, Fla. Phelan shot a 7-under-par 65 in his second round on Monday to finish with a 6-under-par 138 for the tournament.

“I played really well,” said Phelan. “I shot a 73 in the first round. I was two under [par] going into my last hole where I got a triple (bogey) to shoot one over (par). But I came back really well. I played really well in the afternoon.”

Phelan, who is sure to be one of the youngest competitors at this year’s Open, is excited for his chance to go up against the worlds best players.

“I’m not really sure what to feel,” said Phelan. “I’m obviously looking forward to it. I’m just going to go out and do my best and enjoy it. A lot of good players try to qualify. I’m just really happy to get through.”

Playing in the 2010 U.S. Open is just the first step for Phelan, who one day hopes to play on the PGA Tour. While, he is excited to meet the players that headline the Tour week to week, he is mostly looking forward to catching up with Padraig Harrington.

“I met him at TPC this year,” said Phelan. “I’m really looking forward to meeting him again.”

While Phelan, a business management freshman from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., will be impressing people nationally come June 17, he has also impressed coaches, teammates and opponents alike throughout his first year at UNF.

“It has been a good season,” Phelan said. “I think winning the home event, the John Hayt, was the highlight so far.”

The highlight Phelan is talking about was the 19th Annual John Hayt Collegiate Invitational at the Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tournament was the Ospreys’ first win of the season. Phelan tied for 10th place with a 3-over-par 219 for the tournament. The John Hayt Invitational was the site of just one of Phelan’s many top-10 finishes this season.

Phelan, who works at the Champions Club in Julington Creek, Fla., played well throughout the year. He played in every tournament as a freshman on his way to racking up eight top-10 finishes; with three top five finishes including a strong performance at the 2010 NCAA South Central Men’s Golf Regionals where he finished in a second place tie. With all the success Phelan has had so far, he has climbed his way up to being one of the leaders of the Ospreys’ team.

“Everything you are trying to accomplish, he helps raise that,” said head coach Scott Schroeder. “At this point, it is a little more leadership by example, than it is by words. He just does all the right things, and I think some of that rubs off on some of the other guys.”

Phelan attended Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, before finishing his last two years of school at home. While Phelan was named MVP of his team as a freshman, most of his success in high school came in his junior and senior season.

Phelan led Nease to a 2A State Championship as a junior. In addition, in his junior and senior seasons, he led Nease to conference, district and county championships. When deciding where he would play college golf, Phelan’s time at Nease factored into his choice to stay close to home.

“I lived in St. Augustine for a while, so I wanted to stay close to home,” Phelan said. “My swing coach, as well, lives in Jacksonville, so I wanted to stay close to him. Also, I really liked UNF, coach Scott Schroeder and the whole program.”

Phelan has been a helpful addition to the Ospreys and has impressed Schroeder, who went as far as saying that Phelan was the best freshman he has ever coached.

“He has done a really good job,” Schroeder said. “He is a very mature kid. He only continues to get better and better every day, so it has been really fun to watch his progress throughout the course of the year.”