Oct. 3, 2002
Even though the men’s Gamecock Golf Team qualified for their seventh-consecutive NCAA post season play, Coach Puggy Blackmon was anything but satisfied with last spring’s performance. A lack of consistency and leadership plagued the young squad throughout mid to late spring and resulted in a dismal NCAA East Regional. Following the first half of this year’s fall campaign, the veteran Coach is beginning to smile again. Thus far, the linksters have defeated nine Top 25 teams, including five from the Southeastern Conference.
“I am very encouraged and optimistic thus far,” stated CoachBlackmon. “We have guys stepping up with a real desire to be competitive. As young players will do, they are simply trying a little too hard, but with experience and maturity, this group has the capability of being very successful.
West Streib: (on his collegiate debut) “I put in a lot of hard work and it was great to finally qualify for the tournament. The tournament was probably the best field we will see all year until the NCAA’s. The course was very difficult and the weather conditions hampered our preparation for the tournament. I had a problem late in my rounds because I was just a little bit nervous, but I guess that goes with the territory of playing in my first event. This was a great event to start off my college career.”
(On his your expectations for the rest of the season) “I am exempt for the next tournament in Hawaii and I am really excited about making the trip to Honolulu. My goal is to secure my spot on the traveling squad for the rest of the year by a solid performance in my future tournaments. I want to remain consistent throughout the rest of the school year and post some top finishes in the spring.”
(On the team’s expectations for the season) “At the last tournament we were really close to taking it deep and finishing in the top 4-5. This squad is a very young team. We gained valuable experience when competing among the best players in the nation at one of the toughest courses we will play all year. I think we are very close to being among the top teams in the nation. With every tournament we are gaining more experience and making smarter decisions. I think we have a great chance to win some tournaments this spring and establish ourselves as one of the top 10 teams in the nation.”
Eirik Johansen: (On his immediate impact on the Gamecock squad as a freshman) “It is great to be able to be an important part of the team in my first year at South Carolina. The team is very helpful and supportive, which makes it easier to enjoy the game of golf.”
(On his expectations for the rest of the season) “I want to continue to get acclimated to my surroundings – school, golf and friends. Building relationships with the players and coaches is an important factor. In the game of golf, I want to find my rhythm and continue to play to the best of my ability.”
(On team’s expectations for the season) “Our team wants to continue to improve and become one of the top teams in the country. At every tournament we go to, we want to set ourselves up to be able to win the team title.”
Martin Rominger: (on his impressive finish at Kiawah) “It was the first tournament I played in once I arrived in the United States. Prior to the Kiawah Island Tournament, I was competing in Europe and Asia. I liked the course and felt that I had good preparation leading up to the tournament. We had practiced there a week earlier and qualified on courses with similar characteristics. It was nice to be the coaches pick, but at the same time I wanted to prove that I belonged there and I felt that I accomplished that.”
(his perspective of the team) “I am really happy that our new guys are stepping up. I have a good feeling about the spring. We have about eight guys who are playing pretty well. We are a young team and I think South Carolina will win a tournament in the near future.
Michael Maness: (His look on this year’s team) “Our team, as a whole, wants to get out there and prove that we are good. A lot of us are coming off a good summer stint and I feel we are on the same page and working hard toward our goals.”
(A look at his own playing) “At the beginning of the year I got the confidence I needed. I worked with Dr. Rotella over the summer,, the team’s sport psychologist, and that has helped improve my game. I am trusting myself more and I feel good about how I am playing.”
(On the team’s expectations) “We expect to win tournaments and feel we can win any tournament we go to. With everyone playing well, I feel this could be a good season for us. As a team, we take one tournament at a time.”