Golfers Break from NCAA Prep to Train Special Olympians

Fresh off winning their 10th SCAC title, the Oglethorpe men’s golf team is prepping for the 2012 NCAA D-III Championships at the Mission Inn Resort in Florida. Following Sunday’s practice round, the squad took a break to spend time with members of the Lake County Special Olympics and help sharpen their golf skills.

The NCAA has recently partnered with the Special Olympics to help celebrate the uniqueness of Division III college athletics. The clinic was coordinated through the NCAA by Mary Adamson, Lake County Special Olympics Coordinator, and Oglethorpe Head Men’s Golf Coach Jim Owen (pictured far left). More than 30 members of the Lake County Special Olympics attended with 10 different teams and coaches participating at the 2012 Championships lending a hand with instructional advice.

The Special Olympians rotated through five stations of drills that were tailored to fine-tune their golf skills. The stations included 15 minutes of one-on-one instruction on iron play, driving skills, bunker play, short game situations and putting.

“The response to participate in this clinic was overwhelming,” said Owen. “We actually had to turn volunteers away to keep the instruction to a one-on-one basis. It was a thrill to work with the Special Olympians and I know our kids really enjoyed the experience.”

All five starters on the Stormy Petrel squad—Matt Rebitch, Eric Quinn, Anthony Amodeo, Hayden Jones and Anthony Maccaglia (pictured far right wearing white in the photo)—participated in the clinic as the team gets set for Tuesday’s first round.

“We’re really focused on bringing home the school’s second golf title so the break from our pre-tournament routine to help out with the Special Olympians was a welcome one,” said senior Matt Rebitch. “Now we’re hoping they can come back out later in the week to help cheer us on!”

Former OU Star to Play in PGA Tournament This Weekend

Former Oglethorpe golfing great Olafur Loftsson, who guided the Stormy Petrels to their first ever NCAA Championship in May 2009, earned an invitation to compete in the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship held this weekend at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Loftsson, who now plays under scholarship as a senior for UNC-Charlotte, will compete at the PGA Tour event as an amateur after earning the invite by winning the prestigious Cardinal Amateur in Greensboro this past weekend. He fired a final round 65 to win the event by four strokes and clinch his chance to compete against the sport’s best this weekend.

In May of 2009, Loftsson, then a sophomore transfer from Gardabaer, Iceland, won medalist honors and the Arnold Palmer Player-of-the-Year distinction by leading Oglethorpe to the Division III National Championship.

Loftsson came to Oglethorpe on a foreign student exchange program as a sophomore in the fall of 2008 and was scheduled to return to Iceland following the academic year. His performance on the golf course, however, caught the eye several Division I schools with available golf scholarships. OU Golf head coach Jim Owen made phone calls on Olafur’s behalf and it wasn’t long before the “Iceman”, as he was affectionately known to teammates, had landed a full ride to compete for the 49ers of UNC-Charlotte.

The Wyndham Championship begins on Thursday and will be broadcast from on the Golf Channel from 3:00-6:00 p.m. both Thursday and Friday. If he is fortunate enough to survive the cut, Loftsson could be viewed on CBS this Saturday and Sunday from 3:00-6:00 p.m. To view the Championship website with links to a live updating leaderboard, go here.

Photo:  Loftsson shown holding up his medalist trophy after guiding the Stormy Petrels to the 2009 NCAA Championship.

Pugh Goes Pro: OU Golf Standout Sets Next Course

From playing for Petrel pride to playing for prize: Scott Pugh '11

In the world of golf, there are three major levels of play:  junior, amateur, and pro.  Only a select few college athletes who have both the talent and resources go pro—and Scott Pugh ’11 wants to join that club.

A four-time all conference player, Scott is one of three Petrels to become two-time All-Americans in the history of OU’s golf program.  He’s had the lowest scoring average on the team for the last two years, and was a major player in the Petrels’ storied 2009 NCAA Division III National Championship win.  Now, with his NCAA days behind him, he wants to focus on making it in the professional golf arena.  

Scott says he’s wanted to go pro since he was a child—back in the days when he used a make-shift golf club that his grandfather pieced together to fit Scott’s four-year-old frame.

“Although the reasons for pursuing a professional golf career have changed through the different seasons of my life, I have always wanted to play golf on the professional level,” said Scott.  “There was not a [specific] point in time [that] I realized I could play on the professional stage, but after looking back on my time as an amateur and seeing my success, [I knew] that I needed to advance to the next level—the professional level of golf.”

As part of his push to go pro, Scott’s family will host a golf tournament on July 31 to help defray the costs of his first year on tour, estimateed at $25,000.  The tournament, to be held in Carlisle, Penn., is called the Scott Pugh Project.  Scott plans to begin pro play this fall at the Peach State Professional Golf Tour, a major development tour for those at the entry level of pro golf.  There, he hopes to have at least one top-3 finish, and advance to more competitive fields.  His ultimate goal is to swing with the heavy-hitters in the famed PGA Tour, which he hopes to accomplish in one to three years.

In more than 30 years of coaching OU athletics, Coach Jim Owen said he’s had only five players attempt this route, and if anybody can make it, Scott can. Continue reading