BUIES CREEK, N.C. (April 21, 2009) - ETSU true freshman Michael Stewart (Troon, Scotland) fired an 1-under-par 71 during Wednesday's third and final round at the 2009 Atlantic Sun Conference Men's Golf Championships, overcoming gusty conditions and rallying from 10th place to win the individual league title with a final three-round score of 3-under-par 213 on the Creek Course at the Keith Hills Country Club.
With his victory, Stewart made conference history as the 27th-ranked Buccaneers have now captured three straight A-Sun individual championships, becoming the first program to ever accomplish that feat. Stewart joined teammate Seamus Power (Waterford, Ireland), the 2007 champion, and former ETSU standout Gareth Shaw (Lisburn, Northern Ireland), the 2008 champion, as past winners. Stewart and Power both won as true freshmen.
"It's a great achievement to join Seamus and Gareth in winning the individual championship," said Stewart, who bested Campbell's Vaita Guillaume by one stroke to win his first collegiate title. "I guess the weather suited me today being that I'm from Scotland. The other guys don't normally play in wind like that, so I just tried to stay patient, keep composure, and tried to manufacture some shots. I knew my chances to score would come if I did that."
Starting on the back nine, Stewart posted a 2-over 38 and then regrouped to fire a 3-under 33 on the front nine to finish at 71.
"Michael played a great round of golf," said ETSU head coach Fred Warren. "The wind was up to 25 or 30 mph and really gusty at times. His performance was a big bright spot in what was not a very good team performance."
The Buccaneers certainly did not fare as well in the team competition, building a sizeable deficit on the first two days of play and ultimately finishing in fourth place. ETSU, which finished at 17-over 881 (295-289-297), looked on as host Campbell took the team title and the conference automatic bid to the NCAAs with a three-round score of 3-over 867.
Stewart said the team performance takes some of the luster off his individual title.
"I can't speak for everyone, but even though I'm happy with the win I'm disappointed the team did not finish higher," Stewart said. "The guys are upset by the way we played but that's golf I guess."
With their national ranking near the Top 25, the Bucs season is not over as the team will likely receive an at-large bid to the NCAA regionals, which are set to begin May 14. Visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's golf link to get updates as the Bucs prepare for NCAA play.