March 17, 2006
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Take some veteran talent, blend in experience, fold in some youthful enthusiasm, combine with a talented transfer and mix it all together and the University of Maryland men's golf team could have a recipe for unparalleled success in 2006.
Hoping to extend their current school-best string of NCAA postseason appearances to five years in a row, the Terrapins are poised to make the new year one of the best in history.
"We're a veteran team," said head coach Tom Hanna, now in his 15th season with the Terrapins. "We had a good fall and have got a good schedule in the spring."
With the addition of some scholarship money in recent years, Hanna now has the opportunity to attract some of the top players from around the nation to a program that has been on the rise for some time.
"We had to play in a tough field with half a deck," Hanna said of the historic lack of full scholarship money. "We did well. We went to the NCAAs for several years. Those kids, I take my hat off to them. They helped carry the program and helped get us to another level.
"Now, I think with the work ethic we have, with the goals we've set and with some mental toughness, we can achieve great things. We have eight people on the team who have lettered and I feel they know what they're capable of doing.
"The guys are excited and I think they've raised the bar themselves. You can see it in the weight room and you see kids out there by themselves chipping and putting. It shows me they're going the extra step it takes to be good."
One player Hanna credits with making himself a good player is senior John Eades. Over the past two years, Eades has become one of the top players in the region if not the nation.
"John has had 3-1/2 great years here," said Hanna. "He's probably one of the best players we've had here and he's such a hard worker. He's confident, but not cocky. He's a good player and a good leader. He's elevated and motivated this team personally."
He had three top-10 finishes in the Fall 2005 season and five of his 11 rounds were in the 60s. Eades won two individual titles in the Spring of 2005, winning at the Princeton Invitational and the Rutherford Intercollegiate hosted by Penn State. He has been the Terps' scoring leader since the Fall 2004 semester.
Tyler Witman is a junior with outstanding experience, having been a fixture in the Terps' lineup for the past two seasons. Witman tied for fifth at Mid-Pines in Fall 2005 and had 10 of his 11 rounds last semester count toward the team score. He won The McLaughlin individual title in Fall 2004 and joined Eades as the only two Terps to play in all 13 events in 2004-05.
Tully Coyle has also become one of the steady players in the Maryland lineup. After transferring to Maryland from the University of Tulsa in time for Spring 2005, Coyle appeared in all eight events last spring and in all four tournaments in Fall 2005. He finished third on the team with a 75.8 scoring average last spring and had three top-20 finishes in Fall 2005.
Joining Maryland for Spring 2006 will be transfer Blaine Peffley, who comes to College Park after transferring from the University of Arizona. An player with an outstanding junior-golf resume, Peffley will add scoring punch to the Terrapins' lineup while playing as a junior in terms of eligibility.
The fifth position in the Maryland lineup for Spring 2006 is up for grabs among a number of players. Hanna is hoping the competition for the final spot will make all the players involved show some improvement.
Junior Matt Schall had a top-20 finish in Fall 2005 with an 11th at the Frank Landrey Invitational to help the Terps tie for second in the team standings. Hunter Bendall is another junior who finished the Spring 2005 season in the lineup for the Terps and finishing second in that semester with a 75.7 scoring average.
Sophomore J.J. Occi had a top-20 finish among his three events in Fall 2005 and played 16 rounds to a 75.0 scoring average in 2004-05. Sophomore Adam Cohn and freshman Eric LeFante will also in the battle for the fifth spot in the lineup.