Men's golf begins spring season with title aspirations

Virginia is No. 4 in preseason national rankings

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Senior captain Jimmy Stanger led Virginia with 69.67 stroke average in the fall.

Tim Cowie - Tim Cowie Photography | Courtesy Virginia Athletics

After an outstanding fall season, the Virginia men’s golf team enters the 2017 spring season on a mission.

“We want to win our first ACC Championship in Virginia history and change the direction of this program indefinitely,” coach Bowen Sargent said.

The Cavaliers appear more primed than ever to achieve this lofty goal.

In the fall season, Virginia competed in four nationally competitive tournaments. The team finished in first place in three out of those four tournaments, highlighted by a dramatic victory in the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate. The Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate had 12 of its 17 competing teams nationally ranked in the top 30.

The result is Virginia’s rank of No. 4 in the country in the spring pre-season, making them the highest ranked team in the ACC according to golfstat.com.

The Cavaliers are led by senior co-captains Jimmy Stanger and Derek Bard — a duo among the most impressive in the country. Stanger, who leads the team with a 69.67 stroke average per round, was the ACC Golfer of the Month this past October. Bard, who is second on the team with a 70.83 stroke average per round, is a two-time All-ACC recipient.

“This team has outstanding leadership in [Stanger] and [Bard],” Sargent said. “They are very dedicated to the process.”

However, a key factor to Virginia’s successful fall was the excellent all-around play from the rest of the team. This includes quality production from junior Danny Walker and sophomore Thomas Walsh, who each achieved at least one top 10 individual finish in a tournament this past fall — Walker had one and Walsh had two. Additionally, freshman Luke Schapp significantly contributed in his first collegiate season, highlighted by an 11th place finish to help Virginia secure a victory in the Carpet Capital Collegiate tournament.

“We have a solid group of guys, one through nine. It’s the most depth we’ve had in a few years,” Sargent said. “This breeds competitiveness within the team and has made us better.”

Virginia will begin their season this Wednesday in the John Burns Intercollegiate tournament. The tournament will take place over three days on the Wailua Golf Course in Kauai, HI.

It should be a good opening test for the Cavaliers.

“The John Burns is a special way to kick off the spring season. Anytime you can take a trip to Hawaii is awesome, but to start the year there just sets the tone,” Sargent said. “The Burns is a good, solid field.”

In last year’s tournament, Virginia finished in fifth place out of 17 teams.

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