Feb. 14, 2007
Charlottesville, VA -
The goal of the Virginia men's golf team is very straightforward. The Cavaliers want to keep their season going after they host their own spring tournament, the Cavalier Classic, at the end of April. After failing to qualify for an NCAA Regional last year, third-year coach Bowen Sargent will use a mix of veterans and youngsters in hopes of accomplishing the task.
Virginia will have to make up for the loss of Brad Tilley and Carter Henderson, two players who were regulars in the Cavalier lineup during their careers. Tilley led UVa in stroke average last season and was the program's top finisher 18 times over the last four years. Henderson was third in scoring at 73.73 with a third of his rounds at par or lower.
To help make up for the loss of those players and to prepare his team for a strong run in the spring, Sargent scheduled the Cavaliers in a number of tough fall events to prep them for the rigors of tougher tournament competition.
"My philosophy is that you're looking for two things in a tournament," Sargent said. "You're looking for competition and for a championship-caliber golf course. We did that for our fall schedule, especially with the golf course we'll play. All five courses will help prepare us for the second half of the season."
A trio of seniors should have a significant impact on the fortunes of this year's team. That group includes team captain Eamonn McLoughlin, Daniel McGurk and Andrea Signor. Having played 90 rounds during his previous three competitive seasons, McLoughlin is the most experienced of the group. He played in nine tournaments as a junior and posted a 74.07 stroke average. Twice he led the Cavaliers in scoring, posting his first top-10 finishes as a collegiate in the Seminole Intercollegiate (eighth) and Hackler Invitational (fourth).
Signor, who won the Division II Phil Mickelson Freshman of the Year Award in 2004 while playing at West Florida, also led UVa in scoring twice. He was the team's No. 1 or No. 2 finisher in five of the seven tournaments he qualified for. He finished the season with a 74.00 stroke average.
McGurk played in just three events as a junior after being a regular in the lineup as a freshman and sophomore. He has led the team in scoring four times during his UVa career and has proven capable of consistent, good scoring.
"Any team has to be led by its seniors," Sargent said. "For us to get to where we want to go, all of those guys need to play well. We need to rely on those guys for their experience. McGurk and McLoughlin have each played quite a bit here and Andrea is the one player on our team who has won a championship."
The top returner from last year's team in terms of stroke average is sophomore Daniel Kefale. He finished the year second on the team at a very respectable 73.72 in six tournament appearances. Kefale posted the single-best score of the season, a 65, at the highly competitive Hootie at Bulls Bay tournament.
Fellow sophomore Conrad Von Borsig also had a solid season as a regular in the Cavalier lineup. He played in nine events and finished the year with a 75.19 stroke average. He finished first for the Cavaliers in his collegiate debut, posting a season-low score of 213 at the Tournament of Champions event.
"Conrad has really improved and that's because of how hard he has worked to make himself a very solid player," Sargent said. "He could wind up being the best player on our team. He's capable of having an all-conference, All-America season. Daniel is coming off a great summer and he has a wealth of talent. He has battled through some injuries and when he is healthy he is a factor on our team."
Two other returning junior letterwinners, Greg Carlin and Lee Yang, are also looking to break into the Virginia lineup on a more consistent basis. Carlin played in two tournaments last season, but was a member of the Cavaliers' NCAA East Regional team as a freshman. Yang's only previous outings were at the Cavalier Classic.
A pair of freshmen are expected to challenge for spots in the Cavalier lineup this year. Kyle Stough and Preston Yates bring impressive backgrounds from the AJGA ranks with them to Virginia.
"They both join our team with impressive credentials," Sargent said. "You never know how much they will contribute as true freshmen, especially with three seniors on the team, but they can certainly help us.
While Stough and Yates can help the Cavaliers this season, they are not expected to carry the burden of being one of the team's top scorers. For UVa to return to postseason competition veterans such as Signor and McLoughlin will need to combine with Von Borsig and Kefale to provide the consistent scoring needed in some of the competitive fields UVa will face. It is a challenge Sargent feels the players can meet.
"We need our veterans to take care of business," Sargent said. " Last summer we had three players qualify for the U.S. Amateur (Carlin, Kefale and McLoughlin), so we have some talented individuals. We're going to play on some tough golf courses and against some good teams. It will be a real challenge for this team. The key will be how hard they want to work at being successful. Hard work will get us where we want to go."