JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 27, 2007) - When the ETSU men's golf team completed play last spring with a 21st finish at the NCAA Championships in Sunriver, Ore., the anticipation for the 2006-07 season began to grow immediately. Beginning Monday at the Ping Arizona Intercollegiate in Tucson, Ariz., the Bucs will begin their spring schedule and continue their quest for national prominence.
Anchored by the return of the program's first back-to-back, first-team All-American in the person of senior Rhys Davies (Bridgend, Wales), the Buccaneers also return three other players that comprised the corps of their lineup a year ago, and have already made their way into the Top 10 once this year in Golfstat.com's national rankings. While the team will begin the spring with rankings that range from 11th to 14th in college golf's major rankings, the Bucs are determined to return to the Top 10.
While Davies, who posted the nation's best raw scoring average a year ago at 70.78, has a resume that is undoubtedly the most impressive in ETSU's golf history, he showed no signs of letting up during his final season in Johnson City. Winning his second straight individual title in the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate back in October, Davies has now captured eight individual championships in his career, and he went on to post a remarkable stroke average of 69.2 in the fall. He has now posted 37 sub-70 rounds in his career and will enter the spring season as the nation's No. 5 ranked player. His resume also includes play in the Bristish and U.S. Amateurs, the Walker Cup, the World Team Amateur Championships, and three Palmer Cups.
Even though Davies garners his share of attention, the Bucs certainly enter this season deeper than they have been since finishing ninth in the NCAAs during the 2001 season, primarily due to the emergence of junior Gareth Shaw (Lisburn, Northern Ireland) and the potential shown by true freshman Seamus Power (Waterford, Ireland). Shaw, who also competed in the World Team Amateur Championship, finished second on the team in the fall with a stroke average of under-par 71.7 and placed in the Top 13 in two of three events. Meanwhile, Power turned heads by posting an 8-under-par 64 in the second round of the Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate - tying Davies' freshman record for single round score - and he also ended the fall third on the team in stroke average at 72.0
Along with Davies, Shaw and Power, the Bucs return a great deal of experience in the persons of junior Cian McNamara (Limerick, Ireland) and sophomore Jordan Findlay (Fraserburgh, Scotland). McNamara posted a stroke average of 75.1 in the fall and Findlay finished at 77.0, but both players showed signs of their potential, with Findlay firing a 3-under 69 in the first round of the Carpet Capital Collegiate and McNamara finishing tied for 21st in a strong field at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at the Ridges.
As in years past, the Bucs will play a daunting regular season schedule in an effort to prepare for a run at the NCAA Championships later in the spring. The team will open play Jan. 29-30 in the Ping Arizona Intercollegiate, and after a month break will return to action on Feb. 25-27 at the Puerto Rico Classic. The Bucs will play four more events before competing in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships April 16-18 in Waverly, Ga. The NCAA East Regional will be played May 17-19, followed by the NCAA Championships May 30 to June 2.
For more on ETSU golf throughout the season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's golf link.