Feb. 8, 2002
Perhaps a change in scenery is just what the University of Maryland golf team has needed. Or perhaps an additional year of experience and leadership has been the missing piece of the puzzle. These added elements just might be what 11th-year coach Tom Hanna and his Terrapin golfers need to make their third NCAA regional appearance in the last four seasons.
A bubble team for regional bids as part of the NCAA's District III-North, Maryland moves to the geographically favorable District II this season. The Terps will continue to compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference, in addition to facing more formidable opponents in the Mid-Atlantic region as part of their seven spring tournaments.
"That concerns me from the standpoint that we got used to playing the same golf courses from our old schedule year after year, so we knew what to expect when we got to each golf course and how to play it," said Hanna. "The big concern is that we handle the courses the way we handled the ones in the South."
During the fall season, Maryland posted top-six finishes in each of its five tournaments - including first, second and third place finishes - as an experienced team began to develop and show its potential.
Hanna's 2001 squad was young and talented but lacked veteran leadership and struggled during the season. Consistency was a weekly challenge as the Terps often let early leads slip away, and a different leader emerged at each tournament.
This season's team gives Hanna reason to chomp at the bit as four seniors, a standout junior and a promising freshman threaten a return to the NCAA regionals and provide Hanna the veteran club he'd intended. Seniors Corey Brigham (Rumson, N.J.) and Pete Toole (Lancaster, Pa.), Division I transfers last year from Baylor and Virginia Commonwealth, respectively, have emerged as team leaders. Brigham consistently placed near the top of each fall tournament, posting three top-10 finishes, including a third-place, seven-under-par finish at Kiawah Island. Toole's best performance was a second-place, five-under-par finish at Kitty Hawk, N.C. - one of his two below-par tournaments during the fall - and he had the third-best stroke average on the team at 72.6.
"This year, I feel they should be seasoned veterans," said Hanna. "We have been there, done that, and we should win some tournaments."
Other key seniors who will contribute to the team's success are captain Scott Ehrlich (Blue Bell, Pa.), who transferred two seasons ago from American University, and junior college transfer Phillip Fenstermaker (Rockville, Md.), who won qualifying medalist honors at his first Maryland State Amateur Open last summer.
Junior John Moheyer (Lima, Ohio) proved to be a valuable asset this fall and is expected to help lead the Terps back to the postseason. He placed in the top five of three fall tournaments, and was one of the Terrapins' leading performers. Moheyer owned a 71.7 stroke average, tying Brigham for best on the team.
"I look for John to be solid like he was last year - a lot of top-10 finishes," said Hanna. "I really look for him to be in the running for all-conference, because of his consistency last year and his ability to shoot low numbers. From his freshman year to this year, John has really learned how to play well when he's not striking the ball perfectly. That's taken him to the next level."
The Terps' sole newcomer this season, Bobby MacWhinnie (Pittsburgh, Pa.) played in each fall tournament, eager to gain collegiate experience and a chance to be a regular starter this spring. MacWhinnie's eighth-place finish at the Temple Invitational helped pace Maryland to a first-place finish in the 14-team field.
Sophomore Tim Kane (Simsbury, Conn.) brings an impressive short game to the course. Lending depth and adding to the Terps' experience are juniors Dan MacDonald (Plandome, N.Y.) and Vertti Iso-Ahola (Upper Marlboro, Md.), who both saw playing time last season as sophomores. Junior Brit Musser (North Potomac, Md.), another Maryland native, also hopes to work his way into the lineup.
The Terps open the spring season at familiar courses in Charlotte, N.C. (Birkdale Golf Club - Birkdale Collegiate) and Aiken, S.C. (Palmetto Golf Club - Cleveland Golf Championships) from March 16-19, before tackling two new courses in Virginia at Williamsburg (William & Mary Invitational, March 25-26) and South Mountain Lake (Liberty Spring Golf Classic, April 8-9). Next the team will travel to the Wofford Invitational from April 11-12, site of their most successful tournament last season, where Maryland finished third thanks in part to Brigham's first-place individual finish. Maryland will look to improve on last year's ninth-place finish at the ACC Championships, to be held at Uwharrie Point, N.C. April 19-21, before wrapping up the regular season at the Rutherford Invitational in State College, Pa., on April 27-28.
"I don't think the competition is going to drop off any [in District II]," said Hanna. "We're going to be the ones that everyone wants to go after. The kids know what they have to do and they know what to expect of themselves. My expectations are that we should do fairly well this year."
Thanks to experienced veterans, team leadership, impressive depth, a fresh schedule with new competition and a strong fall season performance, the Terps enter the spring season with high hopes. Maryland will face high expectations in the spring season, and is eager to regain prominence atop the Atlantic Coast Conference and a return to the NCAA postseason.
Men's Golf Fall 2001 Statistics
Name Trn Rnds Top10 >Par Par 60s Low Rd High Rd Strokes Avg Corey Brigham 5 11 3 5 1 4 67 78 789 71.73 John Moheyer 5 11 3 4 2 2 68 76 789 71.73 Pete Toole 5 11 1 4 2 2 68 82 799 72.64 Bobby MacWhinnie 5 11 1 0 1 0 72 81 826 75.10 Tim Kane 5 11 0 2 0 0 70 80 831 75.55 Team Totals 5 55 8 15 6 8 67 82 4,034 73.36