2007-07 Men's Golf Season Outlook

Brendon Todd is no longer a member of the Georgia men’s golf team, but he left some sage advice for the 2007-08 Bulldogs.

Todd and Chris Kirk ended their careers as two of the most decorated Bulldogs ever. They led the Bulldogs to a national championship and two Southeastern Conference titles, while garnering just about every award imaginable. As Coach Chris Haack said, “Those are about size 18 shoes we’re going to have to fill.”
Perhaps, though, the replacement process will be aided by Todd’s parting thought. After the Bulldogs made an impressive comeback to finish second at the 2007 NCAA Championship, Todd said he hoped that the underclassmen had been paying attention.

“Winning a national championship is not an easy thing to do, and you’ve got to put it all together for four days to make it happen,” Todd said. “I’m proud of the way we hung in there. I think that shows our younger guys just how much hard work it takes.”

The last sentence sums it up. The Bulldogs do have young guys this season three juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen and they will have to keep working hard for the program to maintain its lofty status.

“I think we are going to have another great year,” junior Adam Mitchell said. “We all know that we have to step up, but I know that we will. We have great guys, great talent on this team. I think it’s going to be fun playing and hopefully winning some tournaments and championships with these guys.”

“This team has some great chemistry,” sophomore Hudson Swafford said. “Even though we are so young, I think you can expect great things from this group of guys.”

“We are a young team, but we have the potential to be as good as we want to be,” junior Michael Green said. “As always, we have expectations to contend for championships.”

Sounds like they did indeed listen to Todd’s advice which is music to Haack’s ears.

“When we were recruiting these players and when we signed them, we obviously knew they had the talent to play at this level,” Haack said. “But there is a big difference in playing as an individual and playing for a team. You have to do everything with the team in mind. That includes from what happens in tournaments to classroom work, practicing, working hard in the weight room, whatever it may be.

“We have a sign in our locker room that reads, I want men trying to become golfers, not golfers trying to become men.’ Our guys are very mature and know what it takes to be successful at this level. Now it’s time for them to go out and show it.”

With no seniors on the roster, Brian Harman is expected to lead the way for the Bulldogs. The junior is a two-time All-America and All-SEC selection and he is coming off a summer in which he won the prestigious Porter Cup title. He has picked up two wins in collegiate tournaments, and his career average of 72.49 would rank him in the top 10 of Georgia’s all-time list.

Mitchell came into his own last season. The junior was a mainstay in the lineup in the spring, and his ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championship helped him earn All-America honors. Additionally, he had top-4 efforts in a pair of a tournaments that the Bulldogs won.

Green got into three stroke-play tournaments and one match-play event last season. Coupled with his 18 stroke-play rounds in 2005-06, he checks into this season as an experienced veteran.

“We are expecting big things from our juniors,” Haack said. “They have to be the leaders since we don’t have any seniors. Brian, Adam and Michael all have good work habits and are talented golfers, so I have no doubts about their ability to lead this team.”

Swafford burst onto the scene last year, joining Todd as the only Bulldogs to play every round. Swafford earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors, giving Georgia three out of the last four (in the only one missing, 2005, the Bulldogs did not have any rookies). He finished in the top five three times and in the top 10 five times in 12 events.

Rob Bennett got into three events as a rookie last season. He made his collegiate debut at the NCAA Preview, then later played in the Isleworth Invitational and as an individual in the Linger Longer Invitational. His experience in those events should be a positive heading into this campaign.

The Bulldogs have brought in three talented freshmen to round out the roster. Harris English is coming off a summer in which he won the Georgia Amateur and placed 14th in the U.S. Amateur. Russell Henley was the Georgia State Golf Association’s Junior Player of the Year two times, while Lowery Thomas recorded 18 top-10 finishes on the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour.
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