Monday, June 06, 2005
The East Tennessee State University men's golf team returned to a familiar place in 2005, winning a record 17th Southern Conference Championship and making yet another trip to the NCAA regionals. For the tradition-rich program, it was the first SoCon Championship in four years, ending the longest such streak in Hall of Fame head coach Fred Warren's 19 years at ETSU.
Sophomore Rhys Davies (Bridgend, Wales) was the standout story of the season, putting together arguably the most successful individual campaign in ETSU history. Davies recorded school records for individual tournament titles (five), single-round score (63) and three-round score (199), while firing 13 sub-70 rounds and finishing in the Top 3 in nine of 12 events. For his efforts, Davies earned PING All-America honors, was ranked No. 2 nationally by Golfweek, and was a semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award, which annually goes to the nation's top amateur player. Davies, who finished the season with a team-best stroke average of 70.54 and was selected as the Southern Conference Golfer of the Year, earned a spot in the NCAA Championships with his second-place finish at the NCAA East Regional. He will continue to compete internationally this summer, representing Wales on the European Palmer Cup squad.
Along with Davies, the Bucs enjoyed solid play from two other young Irish players, as freshmen Cian McNamara (Limerick, Ireland) and Gareth Shaw (Lisburn, Northern Ireland) finished second and third on the team in stroke average. McNamara finished the season at 73.87 and Shaw ending the year at 75.40. Along with Shaw and McNamara, another mainstay on the five-man tournament roster was senior Cennydd Mills (Cardiff, Wales), who played in every tournament during the 2004-05 season and finished fourth on the team with a stroke average of 75.8. Meanwhile, sophomore Stephen Arnold (Langhorne, Pa.), junior Noel Kavanagh (Westport, Ireland) and senior Jeremy Hobson (Thonotosassa, Fla.) shared time in the fifth spot during tournament play. Arnold posted the best stroke average of the three, finishing the year fifth on the team at 78.47.
As the Buccaneers ended their time in the Southern Conference, the victory in the SoCon Tournament gave Warren the conference record for most tournament victories by a coach. Warren has directed the Bucs to 12 titles in his 19 seasons at ETSU, besting the previous record of 11 set by Duke's Ellis "Dumpy" Hagler. ETSU will now say goodbye to the SoCon, and along with the rest of the Buccaneer program, join the Atlantic Sun Conference for the 2005-06 season.