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Men's Golf Sees Bright Future

By Tony Lane
March 2001
Originally Published in the Vanderbilt Flagship

Press McPhaul spotted an opportunity to construct a winner
with the Vanderbilt men's golf team when he was hired last summer.

"When I came out here and I saw the university, and the setting and the attitude, I've picked up since August that there seems to be a real renaissance going on, especially in the athletic areas," said the former N.C. State golfer. "People are invigorated by Chancellor Gee, and by what they see as a real opportunity to succeed. With the great academic reputation of the school and the great setting like Nashville, it was an extremely easy decision."

McPhaul and his Commodores have positioned themselves for a run toward Vanderbilt's first NCAA tournament appearance. Through fall play, McPhaul's crew is tied for seventh in the district, and the top eight teams in each district qualify for the NCAA regionals in May.

Vanderbilt teed off slowly this season, finishing 9th out of 12 in
the Windon Memorial October 2-3. But after posting a 31 over par for that
tournament, the Commodores have slashed strokes from every team finish
thereafter. McPhaul's squad was a mere six shots over par in the autumn's
last tourney, the Prestige Desert Willow. Brandt Snedeker, a prep standout
from Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy, is the team's ace. The sophomore
finished tied for third at Desert Willow with a 5-under 211 for three rounds
and leads the team in stroke average at 71.58.

McPhaul draws upon Vandy's basketball team for a metaphor of his
coaching approach.

"I'm trying to help them learn their game, so that they can say,
'This is my strength, so I'm going to develop a strategy that's going to
take advantage of that,' rather than having Darius Coulibauly shooting
three-pointers, which is what some of the guys might like to do. That's what
our guys need to do, figure out which guys are the outside shooters, which
ones are down in the paint. They need to know that and then play
accordingly."

McPhaul knew Commodore Athletic Director Todd Turner well from
Turner's days at N.C. State, so that played a significant role in McPhaul's
decision to take the golf position at Vandy. This is McPhaul's first head
coaching experience, and while he values the foundation laid by predecessors
Mason Rudolph and Jim Ragan, he's not content to simply build the Commodores
for future success.

"I feel that we have a pretty special opportunity here," McPhaul
explained. "My predecessors have done an excellent job of building a program
that before had no tradition and no success to build upon at all.
"Like any other coach in any other sport, you don't want to build,
you want to win. You want to win right away and not a couple of years down
the road. There's some impatience there."

Aggressive recruiting reveals McPhaul's desire to push the men's
team forward. Vanderbilt has already signed Mark Donnell out of Mobile, AL.
All Donnell has done is win an AJGA tournament in Tampa, beaten the
top-ranked AJGA player in Orlando, and become the sole recipient of both
Academic and Athletic AJGA All-American honors.

"He's a superb player and a hard worker," McPhaul said of Donnell.
"The thing that attracted him to Vanderbilt was that vision of success.
That's exciting, because if you know they're coming here because of that,
they're going to work hard."

Birmingham's Lance Goodson is the other commitment McPhaul has
secured, and he too has a promising future.

"Consistency is something he needs to improve on. When he does that,
he will be as good as he wants to be. He wanted to play in the SEC, and to
compete at the highest level," said McPhaul.

Vanderbilt opened its spring schedule with the Gator Invitational, a
crucial meeting of mostly SEC teams hosted by the University of Florida
February 9-10. But to pinpoint one tourney as more or less important than
the rest is counterproductive, according to McPhaul.

"This is a cliche, but they're all extremely important this spring.
The Florida tournament's important because in some ways that will kind of
set our tone for the spring. The Alabama and Auburn tournaments are just
like Florida State's in that they're well balanced with district teams, and
if you're playing in this district, you're playing the best teams in the
country. The North Carolina tournament will have a lot of Top-25 teams
there, so that tournament will allow us to further our case, that we belong
with those teams in the NCAA tourney."

Whether or not Vanderbilt vaults into the postseason in 2001,
McPhaul realizes that the pieces are in place for long-term success for the
Commodores.

"My pressure, the impetus I feel, is to continue that, because there
are a lot of things in our favor here at Vanderbilt," McPhaul pointed out. "I feel a sense of great opportunity here, and that's my strongest motivation. I have a clear vision of how successful we can be here. We're
playing in absolutely the best golf conference in the country, we're in a
great golf town, and there's no reason that Vanderbilt can't have a great
program."

 

 


 







 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
                   
Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
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