April 5, 2012
CONWAY - The Coastal Carolina men's golf team is coming off an impressive performance at the Insperity Augusta State Invitational and hopes to use that momentum at the final event, the 2012 Big South Championships, played April 16-18 at the Patriot Club in Ninety-Six.
With a team featuring one senior, one junior and a sophomore back from the 2010-11 season, a handful of freshman were thrown into the fray and, for the most part, responded. On top of that, add the performances of the returning trio and Coastal is in position to reach an NCAA Regional for a ninth straight season.
The 2011-12 season saw the Chanticleers face one of the nation's best schedules. While Coastal has a record of 68-66-3 and is ranked 77th nationally by Golfweek and 79th in Golfstat, this year's team has played the Big South's toughest strength of schedule (by Golfweek) at 32nd nationally.
Below is a breakdown of Coastal Carolina's 2011-12 schedule with the Golfweek Ranking of the event out of 190 tournaments this season and where CCU finished with the number of ranked teams:
- Gene Miranda - 90th (finished 7th of 18; Golfstat ranking not available for this tournament)
- Rod Myers - 29th (finished 9th-t of 11 teams; 5 ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
- Windon Memorial - 54th (finished 10th of 17 teams; 5 teams ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
- Gifford Collegiate - 9th (finished 9th of 11; 7 teams ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
- SeaBest Jacksonville - 43rd (finished 5th of 13; 4 teams ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
- San Diego - 15th (finished 13th of 15; 7 teams ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
- John Hayt - 25th (finished 4th of 15; 9 teams ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
- General Hacker -27th (finished 7th of 15; 7 teams ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
- Furman -87th (finished 3rd-t of 21; 3 teams ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
- Insperity Augusta State - 13th (finished 10th-t of 16; 10 teams ranked among the Golfstat top 50)
Coastal has a stroke overage of 296.56, which ranks 10th-best in CCU history to date.
Senior Charlie Winegardner has finished his career strong, posting a score of 7-under over his last five rounds. At the Insperity Augusta State Invitational - one of the best tournaments in the nation, Winegardner finished a season-best 14th (tied), shot a career-best 5-under par, shot season-low 70 twice, shot a season-best 140 for 36 holes and turned in a career-best 211 for 54 holes - his best by five strokes. Winegardner has shot par of better 10 times in his first three seasons combine, while accomplishing the feat nine times in 2011-12. In 10 events, he was either Coastal's first or second-best scorer six times.
Junior Sebastian Soderberg continues to lead the Chants. The two-time All-Big South honoree ranks fourth in the NCAA with 111 birdies this season. Through 10 events, Soderberg ranks 157th nationally by Golfweek and he has posted a 570-220-25 (.715) record this season. While Liberty's Robert Karlsson is ranked 40th in Golfweek, his schedule strength is 454 compared to Soderberg's 241. Soderberg won the 2012 Furman Intercollegiate, beating four top 100 players, with a 12-under 204 and shooting 68 each round to earn Big South Golfer of the Week. He also became the Chant to win medalist honors since Dan Obremski won the Windon Memorial in October 2009. The 204 is the fifth-best, 54-hole score in CCU history behind Dustin Johnson (three times) and Zach Byrd. He leads the team with a 73.13 strokes per round average, which ranks 14th on the CCU single season list, and has been Coastal's top finisher five times. Soderberg has six rounds in the 60's and 11 rounds of par or better this year. He placed fourth at the John Hayt Collegiate (2-under 214, beating 10 players ranked among the top 100) and has three other top 15 finishes, including a 12th-place finish with a 3-under 213 at Gene Miranda to earn the first of two Big South Golfer of the Week honors; a 12th-t at the Windon, beating two top 35 players; and 15th-t at the Sea Best Invitational.
Sophomore Roberto Ballesteros has battled injury of late, missing the last three events. In his last round prior to the injury, Ballesteros carded a 2-under 70. He has four top 40 finishes in five events, including a 15th-place finish in the first event of the year and a 22nd-place finish playing at the world famous PLAYERS Stadium Course at Sawgrass. Ballesteros has turned in career bests finish in relation to par (1-under), low round (tied with a 67), low 36-hole score (139) and low 54-hole score (215).
A trio of freshmen (Ben Wheeler, Peter Valasek and Andrew Dorn) emerged to be mainstays in the lineup the second half of the season. The three with fellow frosh Easton Renwick are 25th in the nation on the Golfstat Freshman Impact Ranking with a combined scoring average of 75.35.
Wheeler, a candidate for Big South Freshman of the Year honors, is the top-rated rookie in the league, according to Golfweek, and is the only freshman in the league to win Big South Golfer of the Week honors. ranking 522nd in the nation (ahead of Liberty's Mathieu Fenasse at 569 and Campbell's Grant Houser at 669). Also, Wheeler's strength of schedule is by far the best in the Big South for a freshman at 288, ahead of Fenasse's 847 and Houser's 983. Wheeler ranks second on the team with a 74.67 strokes per round average, playing in seven events. He ended the regular season with an impressive performance in one of the nation's toughest fields, shooting 4-under 212 to tie for 18th at the Insperity Augusta State Invitational. He carded a 66 in round two, becoming just the seventh Chanticleer to shoot a 66 or better. Wheeler also tied for 12th at the John Hayt Collegiate as he carded a 2-over 218 and, over his last 12 rounds, is just 15-over par.
Valasek showed his mettle playing as an individual at the General Hackler. He was 1-under par after two rounds before posting a 78 in the third round. However, he was still the highest Chanticleer on the leaderboard, tying for ninth with a 219. He beat six players ranked among the top 100 and tied East Carolina's Todd Varner, who ranked 34th at the time. He has three top 25 finishes to date and has shot 225 or better in five of seven events.
Dorn leads the freshman class, playing in eight of the Chants' 10 events. He, like several of his teammates, finished strong as his 8-over par, 148 36-hole score and 224 total at the Insperity Augusta State Invitational were season bests.