March 4, 2013
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WASHINGTON – Looking to defend its first-ever Atlantic 10 Championship from 2012, the George Washington golf team opens the 2013 spring season at the Harmony Preserve Intercollegiate, hosted by conference newcomer VCU in Orlando, Fla.
The Colonials will compete in the three-day, 54-hole event from Monday, March 4 – Wednesday, March 6 at the par-72, 6,995-yard Harmony Golf Preserve. Competing alongside the Colonials in the six-team field is Austin Peay, Florida Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast, host VCU and Villanova.
GW hits the course for the first time since the end of October when the Colonials wrapped the 2012 fall season at the Kiawah Island Intercollegiate. Sophomore Jack Persons paced the Buff and Blue this fall with an average score of 75.3 through five events and 15 rounds of play.
Fans can follow live scoring throughout the three-day Harmony Preserve Intercollegiate here.
2013 GW GOLF SEASON PREVIEW
After claiming its first-ever A-10 title in 2012 with a new school 36-hole record of 8-under 568 and making its first trip to the NCAA Regionals since 2006, the George Washington golf team looks to reclaim its crown with a fresh look this season. The Colonials lost four-fifths of its championship team to graduation last spring but return sophomore standout Jack Persons, the lone freshman who helped GW to the crown.
“We were so excited to win the A-10 Championship last year and show the conference that we can compete with anyone,” said fifth-year head coach and reigning A-10 Coach of the Year Terry Shaffer (’79). “We are working with a new team this season and we are all focused on getting back to the position of winning the title again.”
Having lost four players from last spring’s squad, GW returns seniors Manny Tulumaris and Brennan Wallman, in addition to juniors Benton Kircher and Graham Lawyer and sophomores Jonathan Dresnick and Persons. Despite a different look from last season’s championship team, Shaffer is confident that the returners, along with four freshmen, will be able to fill the gaps that were left.
Joining the Colonials this year are freshman Michael Helton, Howard Hickey, Carlos Pena and Steve Piela, all of whom garnered playing experience this past fall.
“These guys know that we have to be competitive if we want to win the A-10 title again,” Shaffer said. “We had time this fall to gel as a team and I’m confident that we will see major improvements from the fall season.”
Persons, who finished his rookie campaign with a 76.0 stroke average through 11 events and 29 rounds, will lead the way for GW this spring. Persons set new 36- and 54-hole GW scoring records of 138 and 207, respectively, en route to a fourth-place finish at the Old Dominion/Outerbanks Collegiate during his freshman fall season.
“Jack has proven himself to be a winner and I know he will take us far this season. He has been consistently good through every tournament and he puts his heart and soul into playing and getting better,” said Shaffer said. “Jack carried the team this fall and I expect him to produce some great scores this spring.”
Persons’ classmate Dresnick returns for the Colonials with one year of play under his belt. The Miami, Fla., native averaged a 77.6 through three events and eight rounds during his freshman season and Shaffer looks for him to continue to improve and produce consistently low scores.
“Jonathan is incredibly dedicated and is committed to improving and refining his game,” Shaffer said. “I saw the potential he possessed last year and I expect him to play very well this spring.”
Juniors Kircher and Lawyer return for their third seasons in Buff and Blue and will be looked to for their experience and leadership. Kircher did not see any action this fall but averaged an 80.3 through three events last season. Lawyer, a co-captain, competed in four of the five events this fall and averaged a score of 77.9.
“Graham has been a great asset to our team. He wants us to be the best we can possibly be and he sets a great example for our younger guys by working hard both on the course and in the classroom. I’m looking forward to seeing Graham be a little more consistent in his play, because I think he is capable of shooting under par at every tournament,” said Shaffer. “Ben is a player who I have a lot of confidence in. He works extremely hard and plays with a lot of confidence. I expect Ben to have a breakout season this year and I think he will come through for the team.”
Rounding out the returners and entering their final season of collegiate competition are Tulumaris and Wallman. A co-captain alongside Lawyer, Tulumaris has become a team leader and role model, and Shaffer believes his actions on and off the course have had a major impact on the Colonials’ squad. The Hartford, Conn., product yielded his best season last year with an 82.1 stroke average.
Wallman did not compete this fall season but produced an average score of 81.0 through four events and 11 rounds in 2011-12. Through three seasons of competition Wallman owns a stroke average of 82.1.
“I have been really happy with Manny over the past few years and I know the team really looks up to him. He has come a long way and I have been proud to watch him grow,” Shaffer said. “Brennan is a very hard worker and he played well in a few tournaments last season. I am hopeful he will step up this spring and qualify for and compete in multiple events.”
With the addition of newcomers Helton, Hickey, Pena and Piela the GW squad possesses a wealth of depth and talent. With the fall season under their belts, Shaffer believes the freshmen have become acclimated to the demands of collegiate life and NCAA Division I golf and will continue to improve.
“The fall season can be tough because the freshman come to school and jump right into tournaments without adjusting to the college lifestyle,” said Shaffer. “They had a lot more time this spring to ease into things and I think the difference in their performances will be night and day.”
Peila paced the way for the rookies this fall as he competed in four tournaments with a stroke average of 78.3. The First Team All-New Jersey State selection is expected to a steady and consistent player for the Colonials. Helton, an All-State selection from Okla., sat right behind Piela through fall competition with a stroke average of 78.8 through three events. Reigning South Texas MVP and all-district honoree, Pena carded an average of 78.9 through three fall events and Hickey, a Georgia All-State selection, shot a 77.7 in his first collegiate appearance.
“I have a lot of faith in the four freshmen, as well as the entire team. When everyone works together and helps each other out, we really are a force to be reckoned with,” said Shaffer. “If we can build off of what we learned this fall I know we will be extremely competitive at the conference championship.”
With the additions of Butler and VCU to the Atlantic 10 Conference, winning the league crown has become that much more challenging. The Colonials, however, are slated to compete in five competitive tournaments throughout the spring to prepare for the conference championship.
“Adding Butler and VCU makes this conference even more challenging and I think that’s a good thing,” said Shaffer. “This A-10 is strong and it makes winning the championship that much better. With a lot of hard work and focus I truly think we can repeat as champions this season.”
GW opens the spring season at the VCU-hosted Harmony Preserve Intercollegiate in Orlando, Fla., before hitting the road for the Colonials’ spring break trip to California. While on the West Coast, GW will compete at the two-day Triumph at Pauma Valley from March 11-12, hosted by San Francisco at the par-71, 7,076-yard Pauma Valley Country Club. At Pauma Valley Country Club, the Colonials will get the opportunity to play on one of the top-100 courses in the country and top-10 in California, according to Golf Digest.
The Buff and Blue then head to Buies Creek, N.C., from April 1-2 for the two-day Keith Hills Spring Intercollegiate, hosted by Campbell at the Camels’ home course of Keith Hills Country Club. The par-72, 6,625-yard course was voted as one of the top-50 in the southeast by Golfweek.
For the second straight year GW will compete in Jacksonville State’s Grub Mart Intercollegiate in Gadsden, Ala., from April 8-9. The two-day, 54-hole event is held at the par-72, 7,040-yard Silver Lake Golf Club. The Colonials then close out the regular season at the nearby Navy Spring Invitational in Annapolis, Md., held from April 20-21 at the United States Naval Academy Golf Club.
GW looks to defend its crown at the 2013 Atlantic 10 Men's Golf Championship, which will be played at Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs, Fla., for the second consecutive season. The three-day, 54-hole championship begins April 26 and will conclude April 28 with an automatic bid to NCAA men's golf regionals at stake.