A combination of three returning veterans and four newcomers are the makeup of the 2008 Virginia men’s golf team that has its sights returning on postseason competition. With at least two newcomers in the lineup for each of the teams’ four fall tournaments, head coach Bowen Sargent experimented with numerous combinations looking for the right mix to allow the team to achieve its goal this spring.
“All of the freshmen, and Steven Rojas, a transfer, are very talented and I think we will see them develop a lot this spring into players that can qualify for the lineup, shoot low scores and help us as a team,” Sargent said. “The fall is a difficult transition period for any freshmen and newcomers. There is a lot of change in their lives and they learn to assimilate academically. Those challenges are now part of their daily routine and they are more comfortable with everything they do, including golf.”
While newcomers can bring an influx of enthusiasm to a program, Sargent knows he has a trio of veterans who will be the core of this year’s team.
Coming out of the fall, senior captain Greg Carlin clearly played the best of anyone on the roster. Carlin led UVa in scoring at both Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic and The Ridges. His runner-up finish at Notre Dame was his best collegiate performance and his second top-three outing in his last three college events, dating back to last season.
“Greg has progressively developed his game and exactly what you want to see in a senior and leader on your team,” Sargent said. “He is a very good ball striker, and has the physical ability to overpower courses. As his putting has improved over the past three years his game has progressed.”
An All-ACC performer last season, junior Conrad Von Borsig is eager to improve on his fall performance that did not see him post a top-25 outing in four tournaments. Last season Von Borsig led UVa with a 73.67 stroke average and was the Cavaliers’ top finisher in six of 11 tournaments. In January he finished eighth in the New Year’s Invitational.
“Conrad can certainly be the leader of this team,” Sargent said. “Conrad is as committed of a student-athlete as I’ve ever seen. His focus is on golf and schoolwork as he aspires to achieve excellence in both, making him a model student-athlete.
Sophomore Kyle Stough played in nine tournaments as a freshman and posted a pair of top-10 finishes. After averaging 19.7 over par in the three fall tournaments he played in as a first-year, he averaged 7.8 over par in his six spring events.
“Kyle has improved tremendously over the past year for us,” Sargent said. “He’s been willing to commit and incorporate the necessary changes to be a great player. The changes he’s employed will serve him well over the next few years. Combine his new mechanics with an unwavering self-belief and Kyle should achieve all of his goals.”
Virginia’s newcomers include transfers Stephen Rojas and Cole Willcox and freshmen Henry Smart, Will Collins and Amory Davis. Rojas and Smart bring international experience to the Cavalier roster.
Rojas comes to Virginia after attending St. Gallen University in Switzerland. A member of the Swiss World Amateur team, he placed first or second in 10 of 20 tournaments he played in 2006 including the Swiss Junior Championship.
Smart hails from England where he was a member of the English Elite Squad as one of the nation’s top juniors. He played in three fall events and enters the spring with a 74.22 stroke average.
Freshmen Will Collins and Amory Davis both qualified for tournaments in the fall. Collins was the top-ranked junior in North Carolina last year while Davis was an honorable mention AJGA All-American.
Willcox will sit out the 2008 campaign after transferring from Kentucky and rehabbing a wrist injury. He did not play for the Wildcats and started his college career at St. Joseph’s.
“The freshman class and the two transfers have a lot of ability Sargent said. “They all have impressive resumes. I anticipate these players will eventually navigate Virginia golf in the right direction. They all aspire to play professional golf and, more importantly, they want UVa golf to be competitive at the national level.”