For a new coach looking to put his stamp on a program, the competition schedule is as good a starting point as any. When Forrest Schultz came to Troy last year as senior men’s golf coach, he worked the phone to make the schedule a selling point. The goal is always to get into the strongest squares.
On Wednesday, Schultz’s players gave him one back.
Troy could be the first collegiate golf team to secure their place in a major collegiate golf tournament by winning another. Winning the Golfweek/Any Given Tuesday Intercollegiate at True Blue Golf Club on Pawley’s Island secured the Trojans a spot at next year’s Augusta/Haskins Award Invitational. It has consistently been one of the best fields in men’s collegiate golf, with Pepperdine, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Illinois among teams already signed for 2024.
It’s also played right before Masters week, and traditionally every team in the field gets tickets to Monday’s practice round at Augusta National.
“The schedule is huge, it’s a top-notch event every year,” said Schultz, who came to Troy after eight seasons coaching the men’s and women’s golf teams at Henderson State, an NCAA Division II school in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. “Obviously having tickets to the Masters practice round after that is going to be a very special week for our team and something these guys will look forward to and remember well beyond college.”
Fifth grader Will McFadden joked with Schultz that this week was for the recruits. He’ll be long gone when Troy rolls to Augusta next spring, but McFadden’s 69 in the second round helped Troy set a school record for 18 holes and move away from the field.
Sophomore Jake Springer went down 3 through the first five holes of the last round and from then on Troy was pretty much untouchable.
“We wanted to figure out how many holes we could attack because the fairways are really wide there,” Schultz said of the True Blue game plan. “We wanted to make sure we were taking the most efficient line we could off the tee to give ourselves the best opportunity to get our hands on wedges.”
Troy was 24 under over three rounds at True Blue and played the final round at 11 under, which was the day’s lowest round at eight shots. Ranked 99th on the Golfweek/Sagarin College rankings and the only top 100 team in the field, the Trojans ended the week with a 22-shot lead over Delaware and Connecticut, tied in second place.
Springer finished second with 8 under singles, teammates Brantley Scott and Jason Quinlan finished fifth with 5 under. Nicklas Borrmann was T9, McFadden brought a T-22.
Connecticut’s Jared Nelson won the singles title with 9 under.
Schultz sees this team’s strength in accuracy off the tee. He has placed an emphasis on the short game to allow his players to create more scoring chances as a group.
Prior to True Blue, Troy finished second at the Auburn Tiger Invitational and T-4 at the Florida State Seminole Intercollegiate, the latter at the notoriously difficult Seminole Legacy Golf Course in Tallahassee, Florida. These starts, accompanied by Power 5 programs, felt like a shot in the arm for Troy. True Blue offered wider fairways and less yardage than last week’s Test in Seminole, and Schultz believes those factors gave his players the opportunity to post such low rounds.
Back home in Troy, Alabama, Schultz doesn’t see why the facilities and resources his team has access to shouldn’t produce a top 50 team year after year.
“We believe we can be a team that can compete in the top 50 every year,” he said, “but it requires you to create a schedule that allows you to get that placement.”
The Trojans won three consecutive events last spring. Troy’s athletic director turned up to celebrate with cake, and Schultz imagined there would be more of that when his team returned home from Pawley’s Island — maybe even some ice cream. If this team keeps winning, he said, he might just have to throw some steaks on the grill.
Schultz is looking for characterful, hard-nosed players for Troy’s roster, but he cuts that with light-heartedness and a clear appreciation for food. Troy faced an eight-hour drive home from Pawley’s Island after the win, but there were plans to stop at Chick-fil-A for a big order that ended in milkshakes.
A call from Brian Stubbs, executive director of the Haskins Foundation, also interrupted the journey. Stubbs called to issue an official invitation to next year’s Haskins tournament.
“Coach said, ‘I put you on speakerphone,’ and at about that point the guys started cheering and clapping and they were all excited,” Stubbs said. “It did that to me. We want the boys to look forward to the tournament.”
No problem there.
College golf practice facilities
Source : sports.yahoo.com