Hoping to put a difficult first spring tournament behind them, the North Greenville University men’s golf team and Coach Jeff Pittillo will head to the Richard Rendelman Invitational in Salisbury, NC March 7-8. Following that event, the Crusaders will play March 14-15 at the Holiday Inn Express Barton College Invitational in Wilson, NC before hosting their own tournament March 28-29 at Cherokee Valley Country Club.
Admitting that will be very tough to get in the NCAA Regionals now, Pittillo said his Crusaders continue to grow and develop. “We didn’t play very well down in Florida at the Outback Steakhouse tournament,” he said. “A lot of the toughest teams in the South were there, and we rained out on the first day and only played one round the second day and the conditions weren’t very good. We hope to bounce back this week at the Rendelman.”
The NGU golf team, which finished last year ranked in the top 30 in the nation, lost its three top players, including Brad Caldwell and Brandon Coggins, who were NCCAA All Americans, and Caldwell was a NCAA Division II All-American. Both former Crusaders made the NCAA II Regionals last year. The success of that duo along with former #3 player Richard Smith, helped guide NGU to a high level of respect among all NCAA II teams in the difficult South Region.
For 2010-2011, Coach Pittillo has brought in several new players, but the Crusaders will be led by seniors Andrew Beck (Fletcher, NC), the team’s #1 player. He will be backed by sophomore Danny Dippel (Hendersonville, NC), and will be the #2 player. Harrison Martin (JR Belton, SC) redshirted last year and is a bit rusty because of the layoff and the inability to play college tournaments last season. He has lots of ability and is expected to contribute this spring. Pittillo is also expected a lot out of freshmen Josh O’Neal (Greenville, SC), who did very well in the fall. “That’s our top four players, but after that, it’s pretty wide open,” Pittillo noted.
The Crusaders played several spring tournaments, highlighted by the NCCAA National Championships played at the Hombre Golf Course in Panama City, Fla. NGU played well in round one, but faltered on the second day and recovered to finish in eighth place. “Most of our players have been on that course before, so we should have had some advantage” Pittillo said. “We had a bit of a setback because we were second last year and went up to eighth. That caused a bit of a bump in our NCAA regional ranking.”
“Andrew Beck has a scoring average of 73 and to get in to the NCAA Regionals, you have to be at a 72, and the head to head rankings against the top players in the region have to be better than others,” Pittillo added. “We’re not really in the mix right now to qualify as a team, but with a really good spring that can change. We didn’t do real well in our first tournament in Florida in February, but we’ll see how the rest of the spring plays out.”
“Our program probably plays the highest level schedule of any sport at NGU,” Pittillo added. “We play predominately a NCAA Division II schedule in the Southeast Region, which is the toughest in the country. We are always up against South Atlantic and Conference Carolinas schools, and it’s not just you against one team. We are always in tough tournaments, because as an independent, you can’t pick and choose the ones we can get into.”
“One of our goals is to win the NCCAA National Championship; We’ve been in the final three the last seven years, except for last fall,” Pittillo stated. “We haven’t won one yet, but for us, it’s just one more golf tournament. We’re always focused on the NCAA Regionals, and that’s our most important goal.”
ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE NGU MEN’S GOLF TEAM:
· 2005 – Team qualified for NCAA Regionals
· 2007 – Team qualified for NCAA Regionals
· 2008 – Brandon Coggins qualifies for NCAA Regionals
· 2010 – Brad Caldwell qualifies for NCAA Regionals
o Team ranked #21 in NCAA II National Rankings
o Caldwell named NCAA All-American & All-Region
· 2004 – Daryl Ketola, Matt Bayliff – All-Americans
· 2006 – Blake Hoover – All-American
· 2007 – Blake Hoover – All-American
· 2008 – Brad Caldwell – All-American
· 2009 – Brandon Coggins – All-American
· 2010 – Brad Caldwell & Brandon Coggins – All-American
· 2011 – Andrew Beck – All-American