The 2009-2010 season for the UNF golf team has been a season which has included some unexpected success, ending with a chance to play in the 2010 NCAA Championship, in Oolewah, Tenn.
The Ospreys finished fourth in the 2010 NCAA South Central Men’s Golf Regionals, a tournament for which UNF had not qualified in 10 years. Their fourth place finish helped the Ospreys qualify for last weeks NCAA Championships where they finished 14th place overall.
“I think our goal at the beginning of the year was obviously to qualify for the NCAA regionals,” said head coach Scott Schroeder. “Our next goal was to make it in to the NCAAs. If you make it there, who knows what will happen. If you play well, something great can happen.”
While reaching the NCAA Championships was a great accomplishment for UNF, Schroeder and the Ospreys were not satisfied just to be there.
“It shows a lot of success,” Schroeder said. “But you know at the end of the day the goal is to win a national championship. You know it is the ultimate prize. We have hit some goals, but unless you win the ultimate prize, you’re still going to feel like you could have done a little bit more.”
The Ospreys started off the season strong with three, top-five finishes in their first four tournaments. The Ospreys never let that momentum go, finishing the season with eight top-10 finishes and three top-five finishes, including two tournament wins.
The Ospreys’ first win of the season came March 2, at their home tournament, the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational at the Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The Ospreys played very well, finishing with three players in the top 10.
Their second win came April 6, at the BancorpSouth Intercollegiate, which Ole Miss hosted at the Reunion Gold and Country Club in Madison, Miss.
The success that the Ospreys have had this year came in large part from sophomore Sean Dale, who Golfstat Index ranked 13th going in to the NCAA Championships and 21st in the Golfweek/Sagarin standings. The Golf Coaches Association of America also named Dale to the Division I PING All-Region team.
Aside from Dale, a two-headed monster that consists of talented experience and gifted youth has led the Ospreys. Senior C. J. Horne and freshman Kevin Phelan are the only two Ospreys to play in every tournament and have been major contributors to UNF’s accomplishments this year.
“It has been a good season so far,” Phelan said. “I’d say the success has been good so far.”
While Dale, Phelan and Horne all have led the way for the Ospreys for most of the season, UNF has gotten solid contributions from four other golfers who round out the seven man rotation which Schroeder used. Senior Jordan Gibb, junior Chris Kennedy and sophomores Kevin Aylwin and Joe Byun have all contributed positively to the Osprey’s success this year.
“We all get along really well,” Phelan said. “I think everyone kind of feeds off each other more than feeding off one person.”
Overall, it has been a very successful season for the UNF Ospreys. Two tournament wins, a fourth-place finish at Regionals and a birth in the NCAA Championships is more than what the Ospreys are used to recently.
“We are almost to a point now to where we have to re-evaluate our goals and set some new ones,” Schroeder said. “I mean for our school, any year you can make it to the NCAA Finals is deemed a successful year. We’ve had a great year. We started off in the fall with two, second-place finishes and then went forward in the spring with two tournament wins. The guys have a lot of confidence.”