ANDERSON, S.C. – During last fall’s season, the Anderson men’s golf team improved its’ position from each event’s opening round to the next day’s closing 18 holes and head coach Danny Neal is looking to get consistency from his squad this spring.
After struggling to a ninth-place finish at the Anderson Invitational last September, the Trojans regrouped at the Myrtle Beach Intercollegiate four weeks later to finish 14th among the 20 teams competing. Collectively, the Trojans slashed a combined 18 strokes from their team score and moved up two spots over the two-day span. AU followed up by claiming sixth at Lincoln Memorial’s State Farm Intercollegiate in mid-October and closed the season by moving from 11th to eighth during Lenoir-Rhyne’s two-day Rock Barn Invitational.
“We want to focus on getting a [good] fourth score,” said Neal. “We have not had a consistently good score at the bottom of the order and it really hurt us in the fall.”
The senior duo of Sean Shelton and Arran Setro led the Trojans during the fall campaign, carding averages of 151 and 152, respectively over the course of four tourneys. Shelton fired a season-best 143 to finish in a tie for 10th at the State Farm Intercollegiate and followed up by sharing seventh with a two-day total 149 at the Rock Barn Invite. Setro posted a 141 to claim a share of sixth at the State Farm Intercollegiate.
“Arran and Sean have both played well at the top,” noted Neal.
David Wachter, a sophomore from Hickory, N.C., was just behind the seniors with a 153 average over the four-event span. He carded a low score of 150 to lead the Trojans at the Myrtle Beach Intercollegiate, while finishing tied for 34th.
“I am very excited about what David has been able to accomplish,” said Neal. “He has developed into a solid No. 3 player and turned in some good scores. I am pleased with his performance and hope he continues to do well.”
CJ Messana, one of two juniors on the roster, averaged 159 in four tourneys, while carding a 151 en route to a share of 46th at the Myrtle Beach Intercollegiate. Freshman Rob Warren notched a season-low 161 and placed 58th at the State Farm Intercollegiate, with newcomer Payden Parrish earning 46th at the AU Invitational.
“I am looking forward to seeing that improvement,” added Neal. “I want to see a couple of the guys get a little fire in them and try to take that mantle and say I’m going to be that fourth score and step up and play like I’m capable of playing and score like I know I can.”
The Trojans open the season on Feb. 10-11 at the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate, hosted by Lincoln Memorial and Wingate at the Fleming Island Golf Club and follow up three weeks later at Catawba’s Richard Rendleman Memorial.
Shelton posted a two-round total 145 and shared sixth place, pacing Anderson to an eighth-place finish at last year’s event.
AU competes at the Tusculum College Invitational on March 8-9, and saw Shelton and former Trojan John Moore each card a two-day four-over par 146 to share 20th, while leading Anderson to seventh a year ago.
The Trojans travel to the Tennessee National Golf Club in early April for the Tennessee River Rumble, hosted by LMU.
“This is a new event on the schedule,” said Neal. “The course will be nice I’m sure it’ll be a tough field. We are excited about every tournament on the schedule and they always have a good solid field.”
“I like the competition,” concluded Neal. “We have the potential, but are not reaching it yet. Golf is such an objective sport and it’s impersonal – either you score or you don’t. We need that consistent fourth score but have not been able to find that consistency. All of our guys have good golf skills and all can get it done but just haven’t played up to their potential yet on a consistent basis. We need it in order to compete.”
The South Atlantic Conference Tournament is slated for April 13-15 at the Sevierville Country Club in Sevierville, Tenn. for the second consecutive year with the identical three-day format.
“I am in favor of the three-day format,” concluded Neal. “It’s a very challenging golf course and a very competitive tournament. We have a very strong conference and [the tournament] will be a challenge for us.