DiBitetto Recipient of Jan Strickland Award presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf
NORMAN, Okla. – North Carolina’s Andrew DiBitetto was named recipient of the 2016 Jan Strickland Award presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf as selected by the GCAA. The Strickland Award is presented to the NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA or NJCAA assistant coach that, among other things, has excelled in working with their student-athletes both on the course and in the classroom.
“I’m grateful and humbled to win this award,” said DiBitetto. “To be recognized and selected by my respected colleagues and peers means a great deal to me. Although this award is given to an individual, in this case, it is absolutely a team honor. Our program has made great strides in a short period of time, both on and off the golf course. This is due to the effort of many people affiliated with Carolina Golf, especially our student-athletes. Coach (Andrew) Sapp and I have been fortunate to be surrounded by excellent, hardworking young men. We still have many goals left to accomplish and I look forward to doing everything possible to help our guys prepare for the upcoming NCAA Regionals, as well as their future endeavors.”
DiBitetto is in his fifth year at North Carolina and his second as the associate head coach. The Tar Heels have won six team titles and six different players have won medalist honors eight times in DiBitetto’s four years in Chapel Hill. Ben Griffin earned honorable mention PING All-America and All-ACC honors in 2015. Griffin and William Register each won two tournaments in their first collegiate seasons. UNC played last year with a lineup that included two sophomores and two freshmen and won three events for the first time in 16 years. This season the Tar Heels have one tournament victory and seven additional top-five finishes in nine events.
“I am thrilled that Andrew has won the Jan Strickland Award,” stated North Carolina Head Men’s Golf Coach Andrew Sapp. “His contributions to our golf program have been invaluable and for the selection committee made up of our peer coaches to recognize his work is an incredible honor. Working with Andrew every day has made me a better head coach and I have definitely seen our players benefit from his teaching and seen our program grow in the past five years. His competitiveness and his dedication to our players are two traits that really stand out. UNC is fortunate to have him as a coach and mentor to our golfers.”
The Strickland Award recipient will have the opportunity to further his professional development by receiving an invitation to the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Kingdom in Carlsbad, Calif.
TaylorMade-adidas Golf has sponsored the Strickland Award since its inception in 2003.
Behr Recipient of Byron Nelson Award presented by Cleveland Golf/Srixon
NORMAN, Okla. – Stephen Behr of Clemson has been named recipient of the 2016 Byron Nelson Award presented by Cleveland Golf/Srixon, in cooperation with the Four Seasons Resort and Club Las Colinas, the Salesmanship Club of Dallas and the Golf Coaches Association of America.
Candidates for the Nelson Award must be a graduating senior and the selection committee considers equally a nominee’s entire collegiate academic and golf career as well as his character and integrity while in college. Particular consideration will be given to a nominee’s good citizenship, as portrayed by Mr. Byron Nelson over the course of his life and golf career.
Behr leads Clemson into the ACC Tournament this weekend with a 71.88 stroke average. He also leads the team in top 10 finishes with four and is tied for the lead in rounds in the 60s with six and under-par rounds with 10.
For his career, Behr is a four-year starter with a 72.48 stroke average, seventh best in Clemson history. He has led Clemson in stroke average three of his four years, has four top 10 finishes and 50 career rounds at par or better. The ACC Tournament will be his 43rd career event for Clemson.
Behr is also a standout in the classroom. He graduated in May 2015 with a 3.91 GPA and continues to represent the tigers as a graduate student. He was a Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar last season. He was also named a CoSIDA At-Large Academic third-team All-American in 2015 and was named CoSIDA Academic All-District for the third consecutive year. Behr is also a thee-time All-ACC Academic selection.
Also active in the community, Behr is an active participant in TigerPals, a Clemson Pen Pal project to communicate with local children in the Clemson community. A member of Clemson’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, he participated as a leader in Clemson Can, a food drive to eliminate hunger in South Carolina. Through SAAC, he also was an integral part of Tiger Field Day and organized and helped conduct Operation Christmas Child. Behr was the event chair for the Welcome Back Festival, which had over 70 local Clemson vendors.
Behr was honored by the Clemson Athletic Department earlier this month when he won the Solid Orange Male Athlete of the Year. That award is presented each year at the CLEMMYs and is presented to the male who exemplifies a Clemson student-athlete through leadership, athletic performance, service, academics and sportsmanship
“This award is one of the biggest and best in college golf,” said Behr. “To me it is the most prestigious because the collegiate golfer who wins it must have the entire package, excelling in all areas that make being a student-athlete a challenge; playing well in competition, staying competitive in the classroom, and carrying oneself with honesty, integrity and respect.”
2016 Arnold Palmer Cup Teams Announced
NORMAN, Okla. – The Arnold Palmer Cup teams for both Europe and the United States were announced today on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. The annual Ryder Cup-style competition will be played June 24-26 at Formby Golf Club in Formby, England.
For Team Europe, Sam Horsfield of Florida (England), Vanderbilt’s Matthias Schwab (Austria), Adrian Meronk from East Tennessee State (Poland), Lars van Meijel of Memphis (Netherlands), Augusta’s Robin Petersson (Sweden) and David Boote of Stanford (Wales) were determined through the ranking. Committee selections were Maynooth’s Stuart Grehan and Antoine Rozner of UMKC. Mathias Eggenberger of Stirling (Switzerland) qualified for Team Europe by winning The R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament. Robin Sciot-Siegrist of Louisville was Janice Moodie’s coach’s pick.
Eggenberger, Schwab and Meronk return from last year’s squad that fell to the United States, 18-12. Memphis’ van Meijel and UMKC’s Rozner are the first Arnold Palmer Cup participants from their universities. Including its coaching staff, Europe is represented by 10 countries - matching the event record set in 2015.
Maverick McNealy of Stanford, Charlie Danielson of Illinois, LSU’s Zach Wright, Rico Hoey of Southern California, Auburn’s Michael Johnson and Nahum Mendoza III of San Diego State were the six United States players selected by the Arnold Palmer Cup Ranking. Derek Bard of Virginia, Chico State’s Alistair Docherty and Will Zalatoris of Wake Forest were committee selections. Docherty was the designated non-Division I player. Will Gordon of Vanderbilt was Mike Cook’s coach’s pick.
McNealy represented the United States in 2015 and was also selected to represent the Arnold Palmer Cup in the 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational. Hoey particpated at Walton Heath in 2014 where he was chosen by Europe as America’s recipient of the Michael Carter Award. Bard is the first Virginia golfer selected for the Arnold Palmer Cup.
For more information visit arnoldpalmercup.com
Arnold Palmer Cup Ranking Selections
Sam Horsfield, Florida - England
Matthias Schwab, Vanderbilt - Austria
Adrian Meronk, East Tennessee State - Poland
Lars van Meijel, Memphis - Netherlands
Robin Petersson, Augusta - Sweden
David Boote, Stanford - Wales
Stuart Grehan, Maynooth - Ireland
Antoine Rozner, UMKC - France
The R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament
Mathias Eggenberger, Stirling - Switzerland
Robin Sciot-Siegrist, Louisville - France
Head Coach - Janice Moodie - Scotland
Assistant Coach - Dean Robertson, Stirling - Scotland
Arnold Palmer Cup Ranking Selections
Maverick McNealy, Stanford
Charlie Danielson, Illinois
Zach Wright, LSU
Rico Hoey, Southern California
Michael Johnson, Auburn
Nahum Mendoza III, San Diego State
Derek Bard, Virginia
Alistair Docherty, Chico State
Will Zalatoris, Wake Forest
Will Gordon, Vanderbilt
Head Coach - Mike Cook, Coastal Georgia
Assistant Coach - John Handrigan, Florida
Team USA Selected for 2016 TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup
Norman, Okla.- Golfers Austin Eckroat, Will Thomson, Matthew Wolff, and Norman Xiong, along with head coach Jeff Roope of Wittenberg University, will represent the United States at the TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup supported by JAL at Chuyko Golf Club’s Ishino Course in Toyota City, Japan. Team USA - which is supported by Nike Golf - has won the tournament five times since its inception in 1992 but has failed to claim the team title since 2005. The USA team finished fourth last year.
Roope, in his 9th season as head coach at Wittenberg, has advanced his teams to NCAA Division III Championship Tournaments in six straight years starting in 2010. He has been North Coast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year five times, and was also named Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year in 2014. Roope’s players have won the NCAC’s Bob Nye Award as the conference’s individual medalist six straight years, with Craig Osterbrock becoming the program’s first All-American in nearly 20 years with back-to-back awards in 2010 and 2011, followed by David Wetterich in 2012, and Alex Andrews in 2013. In 2014, Andrews, John Chaney and Ben Hoenkamp made the list, and in 2015, Andrews and Chaney were honored nationally. Roope has previously worked as Assistant Tournament Director with the Florida State Golf Association and as Assistant Caddiemaster at Muirfield Village Golf Club. A member of the GCAA All-America Committee, he is also former chair of the Great Lakes Regional Advisory Committee to the NCAA Division III men’s golf selection committee.
“I am extremely honored to have been selected to coach the Junior World Cup team for the United States,” said Roope. “The chance to represent my country in such a competition is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I could not be more excited. The opportunity to coach and collaborate with some of the best young talent in the United States is equally unique and a chance I’m looking forward to as much as the competition. What an amazing year to be part of international competition! With the Olympics and Ryder Cup being played in 2016, the interest in golf around the world might never be higher. I'm so excited to just play a small part in growing the game around the globe.”
Eckroat was the first and only freshman in Oklahoma history to be the Class 6A Individual State Champion. He was named to the 2015 AJGA Rolex All-America Second Team. He was the 2015 Scott Robertson Memorial Champion and broke the competitive course and tournament records with an 8-under 63 in the second round. Eckroat also broke the 54-hole championship scoring record at the 2015 Scott Robertson Memorial by four strokes. He was the 2015 Oklahoma Junior Amateur Champion and won his US Amateur Local Qualifier. Eckroat had a thrid-place finish at the 2015 AJGA Ping Invitational. “Being selected to represent the Red, White, & Blue is the greatest honor. I am looking forward to playing some great golf in Japan,” Eckroat said.
Thomson was named a Second Team Rolex Junior All-American for the 2015 AJGA season. He won the 2015 AJGA Chateau Elan Junior All-Star. In 2014, Thomson became the youngest ever qualifier in the history of the U.S. Amateur. He won the 2014 International Junior Masters and was the youngest champion in the 62-year history of the event. He also repeated as New York State Boys Amateur Champion in 2014 with a 21-stroke victory. “It is a great honor for me to have been selected to represent my country in the Junior Golf World Cup. I’m excited to be part of the team and to travel internationally to compete with the best junior golfers in the world,” said Thomson.
Wolff was the 2014 & 2015 Toyota Tour Cup Championship winner at Sandpiper Golf Club. He collected victories from the Toyota Tour Cup at River Ridge Golf Club, Olivas Links Golf Club, and Alisal River Course in 2014. He was also the champion at the AJGA JAS at Tanglewood Park Championship Golf Course. Wolff has been named to the 2015 Wyndham Cup West Team, 2015 SCPGA Challenge Cup Team, and the 2014 & 2015 SCPGA All Southern California Team. He received the 2015 SCPGA Curtis Cup Award, 2014 SCPGA Ralph Miller Award, and was named 2014 Toyota Tour Cup Player of the Year. He was a part of Westlake High School’s 2014 & 2015 State Championship teams. “It is extremely humbling being selected out of so many amazing junior golfers in the USA. It’s going to be a challenge playing in a foreign country but I’m looking forward to competing and showcasing my talents against all the top junior golfers from around the world,” Wolff said.
Xiong was the 2014 & 2015 Toyota Tour Cup Champion at The Golf Club of La Quinta. He also collected wins from the 2015 Toyota Tour Cup at Saboba Springs and Morongo Legends Courses. Xiong was the 2014 Toyota Tour Cup winner at Red Hawk Temecula. In 2014, Xiong had AJGA tournament wins at Mill River Foundation, Sunriver Bend, and Nike JAS Invitational at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. He received selections to the 2015 Wyndham Cup West Team, 2015 SCPGA Challenge Cup Team, and was named a 2014 & 2015 AJGA 2nd Team All American, and 2014 Gary Gilcrest AJGA All American. He is the winner of the 2015 SCPGA Ralph Miller Award and 2014 SCPGA Curtis Cup Award. He was also a 2015 Southern California High School Champion. “It's an honor to be selected as one of the few to represent the USA in such a world class event,” Xiong says.
The Junior Golf World Cup, which follows a four-players-count-three scores format, will consist of four rounds played June 14-17. The TOYOTA Junior Golf World Cup 2016 Supported by JAL is the world’s only junior golf championship in which national teams, winners of regional qualifiers held across 6 continents and participated by more than 60 national squads, compete for the world champion trophy.
Coach Jeff Roope Austin Eckroat Will Thompson
Matthew Wolff Norman Xiong
Blackmon of South Carolina Winner of Labron Harris Sr. Award
NORMAN, Okla. – Puggy Blackmon, Director of Golf Development and Facilities at South Carolina and a member of the Carolinas PGA Section, has been named winner of the Labron Harris Sr. Award presented by the Golf Coaches Association of America in cooperation with The PGA of America. The Harris Award is presented to the college or high school coach and PGA Professional whose support of the game through teaching, coaching and involvement in the community has helped ensure the continued growth of the game of golf and who represents the finest qualities the game has to offer.
“I am both honored and humbled by this prestigious award,” said Blackmon. “Labron Harris was a pioneer in collegiate coaching at a time when his tireless efforts and contributions were for the love of the game. Many thanks to the GCAA for this award and their contributions to the unparalleled growth of our great profession.”
Blackmon has been with the South Carolina golf programs since 1995 after serving a 12-year stint at Georgia Tech. He turned over head coaching duties of the men’s program in 2007 and in 2010 took on additional duties as associate head coach of the women’s team.
As a head coach, Blackmon led his teams to 23 straight NCAA postseason appearances, including all 12 seasons at South Carolina, and 43 team tournament titles. The Gamecocks advanced through regionals eight times. South Carolina won nine team events, including the 2007 NCAA West Regional.
A total of 11 Gamecocks won individual titles. Six golfers earned 10 PING All-America honors and 11 were named All-SEC first or second team 17 times. Blackmon also coached two SEC Freshman of the Year and an SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
During his tenure at Georgia Tech, Blackmon lead the Yellow Jackets to five top-seven national finishes, including NCAA runner-up in 1993. His Georgia Tech teams won or finished second nine times at the ACC Championship.
A four-time ACC Coach of the Year, Blackmon coached 31 PING All-America selections and two Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award recipients.
Blackmon was inducted into the GCAA Hall of Fame in 2005. He is also a member of the Georgia Tech and Carson-Newman Halls of Fame.
A 38-year PGA of America member, Blackmon has served as instructor to PGA TOUR members David Duval, Michael Clark II and Kyle Thompson and the LPGA’s Clarissa Childs and Mi Hyang Lee.
Playing collegiately at Carson-Newman, Blackmon received his bachelor of arts degree in business administration in 1973. He was chosen one of the Outstanding College Athletes of America in 1971 and ‘73. After receiving his master of science in economics from Clemson in 1977, Blackmon worked for six years in the golf resort operations and development field in Florida.
As a junior golf activist, Blackmon was involved with the organization of the AJGA in the late 1970’s, later serving the AJGA’s Director of Development. He organized the Jacksonville Junior Golf Association in 1978 and was Tournament Coordinator for the Junior World Cup in 1981-82. Blackmon served as executive director of the Atlanta Junior Golf Association from 1983-1990.
He and his wife, Gail, have three children and three grandchildren.
Blackmon follows in the footsteps of past Labron Harris Award recipients Jay Hardwick (Virginia Tech/Middle Atlantic PGA Section), Devon Brouse (Purdue/Indiana PGA Section), the late Rod Myers (Duke/Carolina PGA Section), Herb Page (Kent State/Northern Ohio PGA Section), Jim Brown (Ohio State/Southern Ohio PGA Section), Pat Owen (U.S. Naval Academy/Middle Atlantic PGA Section), Rick Pohle (Williams College/ Northeastern New York PGA Section), John Bermel (Northern Iowa/Iowa PGA Section), Pat Goss (Northwestern/Illinois PGA Section), Mike Small (Illinois/Illinois PGA Section) and Mike Mayer (Indiana/Indiana PGA Section).
Korengel Recipient of David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award
NORMAN, Okla. – Ryan Korengel, a sophomore at Mount St. Joseph, has been named recipient of the David Toms Overcoming Adversity Award. Korengel overcame severe brain trauma to become a member of the Mount St. Joseph golf team and 4.0 student.
On September 14, 2008, 12-year-old Korengel was playing golf with three friends in Cincinnati, Ohio. While standing over his putt on the eighth hole, a microburst caused by effects from Hurricane Ike ripped a limb off a neighboring oak tree, crushing his skull and leaving Korengel clinging to life. A fellow golfer who was a doctor saw the incident and rushed to Korengel’s side. She removed his tongue from his airway and stayed with him until additional medical assistance arrived.
Due to the storm conditions, the 911 system was not properly functioning and it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. Helicopter medivac was unavailable due to the high wind conditions.
Korengel arrived at the hospital in a coma. When the pediatric neurosurgeon reviewed Korengel’s CT scan he saw that his entire right skull was shattered and his brain was compressed, bleeding and swollen. The surgeon told Korengel’s parents to give their son a kiss before surgery, as it might be their last.
Korengel survived the surgery but was left in coma with little hope for a meaningful recovery. After eleven days of little to no brain activity, Korengel opened his eyes. Weeks later, Korengel fully awoke and realized that the left side of his body was paralyzed. He was told he might never walk again.
Years of rehabilitation followed. He had to relearn almost every function. Hours were spent in physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapy. He endured five brain surgeries during that first year – including a shunt and replacing the right side of his skull, as well as he fought off a few serious infections.
Suffering from left side hemiplegia, Korengel is paralyzed on the left side of his body with little to no sensation. Prior to the injury he was left-handed. He has developed epilepsy as a result of his injury but is seizure free with the assistance of medication. Korengel is technically blind suffering from a left side field cut, meaning he only sees center-to-right in both eyes. Additionally, he has constant double vision.
Golf, and the opportunity to return to the game he loved, was one of Korengel’s main motivating factors in recovery. When told he could not use his left shoulder for golf, Korengel taught himself to swing one-handed. He swings the club as if left-handed but with his right hand. He needs a cart to move around the golf course and due to his blindness needs a coach to spot his ball for him. Korengel also lacks depth perception and needs assistance with lies on the golf course, whether the ball is above or below his feet and reading greens. He struggles with balance due to the lack of feeling on his left side. The right side of his body completely compensating for his left leaves him physically and mentally fatigued.
Korengel attended summer school to complete the seventh grade and attended eighth grade on an abbreviated course load. He returned to full-time to school as freshmen in 2010. Korengel finished high school and was accepted to attend Mount St. Joseph University. After his acceptance to Mount St. Joseph, he approached golf coach Joe Sparhawk about an opportunity to be involved with the golf team. After the conversation Korengel was offered a roster spot on the team.
Doctors recommended taking classes part-time and commuting from home. Korengel lives in the dorms, without assistance, carries a full class load and earned a 4.0 GPA while competing on the golf team. He was selected by his teammates to represent them on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee.
A communication and new media studies major, Korengel believes he suffered his traumatic brain injury for a reason. He wants to become a motivational speaker, help others deal with difficult situations in their lives and serve as an example of determination in the face of adversity.
“It’s really an honor to receive the David Tom’s Award,” said Korengel. “When I was first nominated I wasn’t sure if I deserved to be mentioned in the same conversation as the past recipients. When I got the call saying I won the award, I was shocked! I feel so blessed to be playing golf at all, so it is amazing to be honored for all of my hard work.”
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