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Inside Villanova Golf with Michael Kania

 

 

Sept. 16, 2010

 

Throughout the course of the year, sophomore Michael Kania will take fans through the experiences of being a student-athlete for the Villanova golf team as they play their way to regional and national prominence.

Note: The most recent day's blog will always be posted first, followed by the previous days entries.

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Spring Season Recap

First off, hello to all the old Villanova Golf Fans (Parents of returning players) and all our new fans (Parents of new players). I know a lot of you are wondering what happened last year, and how I could have left you on such a big cliffhanger. It was as though I was Michael Jordan in Space Jam, and after the big speech to motivate the guys going into the big game against the Monstars the credits rolled. It wasn’t fair to my avid readers, so I vowed not to start this year without finishing last year.

On a side note I’ve noticed I do like comparing myself to Michael Jordan a lot, I think its impossible not to see numerous similarities: first name….(hmm that seems to be it) But if I’m Michael Jordan in Space Jam Brendan Kelly probably would have been Bugs Bunny, based on his leadership and mad hops on the intramural B-Ball squad last winter. Colin List would be Pepe LePeux. Jimmy would be Tweety Bird, since he loves to tweet. Brian Colbert definitely would have been the Tasmanian devil, based on a similar appearance and similarities in how I imagine Taz would swing a golf club. Coach Reilly might not have fit in with us, he likely would have fit in on the Monstars.

The movie Space Jam has one of my favorite quotes of all time by Bill Murray “Wait…we’re on defense? No, No, No, I don’t play defense.” Which makes me think that maybe this year the golf team can improve by working on our defense. Note to Coach: Look into recruiting a goalie? I’m also assuming that because golf has no referees that has to mean it is full out, no rules, anything goes full contact. Which would mean that we will obviously have to make some changes in our starting lineup to include Jason, Phil and…does anybody know where to find Cassium Drummond?

 USF Invitational

Anyway, I’m rambling off about this year when I haven’t even covered last year. So I believe the last thing I posted was going into the first rounds of USF. The next day, not only did the golf Gods shine bright on us, but Colin prayed to the workout gods who blessed him with inhumanly long drives, I prayed to the rap gods (Tupac and Biggie) who blessed me with the ability to freestyle rap about anything all day, which you might not think can help….but look at this rhyme “Didn’t hit that good, yea it was kinda off the toe. So my drive is in the woods so its time for the show. Don’t you know what I mean, Watch me hit it on the green”. Brenden Kelly was walking with me and would utter after each dumb rap lyric “Kania, Kanye…I can’t even tell the difference.” I wish I could remember who I played with, but I do remember what I think was a motivating factor not only us, but every team.

The USF girls golf team were the Live Scoring assistants, meaning every 4 holes we would encounter one of these beautiful girls. Meaning every four holes, no matter how mad I was the smile and Justin Bieber hair flip would come out. (Note to Coach: Look into models caddying for us in the future) We ended up in the final group the last day, with two top 50 teams and ahead of three teams in the top 50. I mean…we were ahead of Florida State. The little town of Villanova…was beating the entire state of Florida (that’s how college golf works right?). We didn’t finish as well the last day, and dropped a few spots but the most amazing part was that Brenden Kelly didn’t play in the tournament due to an injury which is quite remarkable because the only things that keep BK off a golf course are his mom’s dinner and tornadoes. However, he does claim to have played through a tornado once.

So it was safe to assume BK was near death, but still found the strength to walk with me and provide brilliant expertise. Everytime I tried to hit a shot he didn’t agree with our conversations went like this:

Me: I think I’m going to try and hit a low draw around that tree, then have it ricochet off that branch, causing it to fade up over this tree, then it will land on that rock over there in the water and bounce onto the green.

BK: Uhmm…Michael, you’re in the middle of the fairway. Just hit a 7-iron onto the green.

MK: I don’t know, I got a better visual on this shot.

BK: Ok…well, Just trust it. I’m going to go tell Coach I had nothing to do with this decision.

It was the end to our spring break, and we had proven we could play with anyone. I was amped up to go to the next tournament and take the entire state of Arizona by storm. However I did not go, so I took the entire city of Philadelphia by storm by going to see a concert and eating cheesesteaks. Since I have nothing to say about this event I have asked Brian Colbert to describe what happened and he said “We hit some golf shots, most of them went forwards, I made 54 putts, and Steve and Colin destroyed the 14th hole when they insisted on doing a full sprint, mid-air high five.”

My first thought was that mid air meant they were like 2 inches off the ground, until I saw the picture on facebook and it looks like they somehow gained the jumping abilities of Dom Cheek.  Another theory is that this was a hybrid course modeled off a mini golf course and it had trampolines strategically placed around the course instead of bunkers.

This makes me think of the genius innovations I would incorporate if I could design a course. I am convinced my course will only be rivaled by the course from Caddyshack 2. One of my holes will be 4,000 yards made of entirely concrete, another hole will have bunkers filled with jellybeans, I’ll have a hole modeled after 15 at Wolf Run, also known as the hardest hole in golf (to me, since I made a 13 there in my first collegiate event).

I have no idea how anyone played at Arizona, I just know the format dictated they played in a 5some together and we didn’t win, and we didn’t come in last.  

Wildcat Invitational

The next event was our own Wildcat invitational. This was by far the best tournament we played in all year. Free nutrition bars at the snack bar? Nope, tastycakes! I ate like 4 packs of kandy kakes each day. We played well, and both Steve Skurla and Brian Colbert had great finishes. After the first round we were honored to have the golfing legend Buddy Marrucci join us for dinner. My favorite quote of the night was brought to us by an opposing player in the field who approached our table, introduced himself to Buddy and said “So…what brings you to these neck of the woods?” To which Buddy replied “Well, I live here.”

Much of the night was spent dissecting whether Huntingdon Valley or Philmont was the Best Course in the World. Sitting between Rob Galbreath and Buddy was like sitting between two newly found lovers, the depth of Philadelphia golf knowledge exchanged by these two was rather unbelievable. At one point I think Rob asked “Do you think the 1912 or 1962 Philly Open was the best Philly Open in History? Buddy left, dinner was over and all that was left was a nights sleep and the final round. We decided to end the first day(Don’t even remember what place we were in) with a “team steam.” Undoubtedly one of the stranger things that has ever come about, but we all ended up sweating out our bad shots in the White Manor steam room. Coach Quinn of Temple came in to use the bathroom as we were all walking out and to this day I still can’t imagine what possible went through his mind to see the entire Villanova team half- naked walking out of the steam room together at 9 at night.

The next day we played better and finished 3rd, led by the explosive Brian Colbert. He shot 62!…. for his first 16 holes. Steve Skurla also dominated the course, however because he was playing as an individual I never saw him. I asked him after the tournament when he played since I wasn’t sure he did and he told me he played his first round tee time was 8:20 pm, and his second round immediately followed right through the middle of the night. I began to think if this was perhaps why he played so well? Real Wildcats don’t care if its light or dark out…they will take down any challenger at any time. Can a Blue Hen survive at night alone in the vicinity of a Wildcat? What about the Hoyas? They are all asleep…which is why I am going to run the idea by coach of next years Wildcat being played at night. The Temple Owls might not be invited.

BIG EAST Championsips 

The Big East Championship, the three most important days of the year for Villanova Golf. I regret writing about all these events so far removed from when they occurred because I cannot remember all the details. I do remember that on the flight to Tampa a bet was made between Brian and I. As we boarded the plane I looked across my row and saw a young girl in the window seat opposite of me. We were separated by 4 people. Colbert was in the row ahead and I bet him $5 I could get her number, to which he quickly accepted. Clearly he didn’t realize that I practice the Justin Bieber hair flip in my mirror for hours a week. One look at this girl and I hoped to make her heart melt.

She had other plans and fell asleep by the time I finished shaking Brian’s hand. I had to revert to drastic measures, so I wrote her a lovely poem and attached my number to it. As the plane exited I quickly ran up to her as we went different directions and slipped her the note. Now a normal girl might find this extremely odd, and strange until they read the lovey dovey lines such as “Like Q, I’m nothing without U” Naturally the girl texted me within 15 minutes saying I made her day. And well basically that is the end of the story. There are no marriage plans.

We arrived at our hotel which is a bunch of condos spread out across the beautiful facility of Innisbrook. Steve, Brian and I roomed together and we only had two beds. Brian got one via class and the fact that he was on the front cover of the Big East Championship program guide, had the lowest average in the Big East and according to Villanova’s athletic department was a lock to at least win. I’m not sure what the writer meant when he said “at least win”, I can’t imagine what more Brian Colbert could do but to be honest if anyone could do more than win it would be him. Anyway, Steve and I decided the only way to settle who would have the bed would be a classic game of “The floor is lava”, and the first person to touch the ground loses the bed.

We both started on the bed when Colbert counted us down into our American Gladiator style competition. I made a quick leap to the opposing bed, then onto a dresser and was quickly on the kitchen counter. I planned to use speed, agility and leverage. I waited to see how Steve was going to play and to be honest, he outsmarted me. He made a quick dash for every pillow, threw them all into a corner except for one which he kept in his hand. He planned to turn this into a good old fashion pillow fight.

I needed to act quick, I reached into the kitchen drawers to see if I could find anything to my advantage…nothing. I decided to face my doom and began to jump my way back over. I jumped onto the same bed as Steve and he swung back as though he was trying to hit a 190 yard 9 iron and then ripped through, but I ducked. Suddenly we had a Road-Runner vs. Wiley Coyote esque moment as he continued to spin around due to his momentum and fell almost off the bed backwards before I grabbed his hand. I was the only thing holding him up from falling, the bed was mine. I was worried that if I dropped him he would get hurt so I pulled him up, but then pushed him back down. I rang out into my own rendition of “I am the champion” I tried my best to hurt Steve's feelings, but he didn’t seem to be upset at all and we decided that it was about time for us to take a walk to the Innisbrook Nature Walk.

We postponed that for the next day and I went to try and find a vending machine, I left at 8pm and returned at 11 having never found a vending machine, but crashed a wedding and received a ride back to my room from the Best Man. After getting lost on the golf course I eventually found the club house after an hour, which was hosting a wedding. I was quite dehydrated at this point and had no idea how to get back, so I crashed the wedding in my tee and shorts and asked a waiter for three bottled waters. He brought me a water menu, which had a $78 water.

It was a young guy, so I said “Hey, like I’m sure you guys have some cups and a sink somewhere. All I want is water, not Aqua de Pairre” so he brought me a glass of water, possibly spit in because of my sarcastic comment. I was sitting at an abandoned table when somebody approached me and asked about my Villanova Tee shirt, apparently it was an alum and the Best Man. I told him how I had no idea how to get back, but knew the name of my building. He offered to drive me, and I was not going to be foolish enough to decline.

When I returned Steve and Brian were already asleep…they probably just assumed I was attacked by a wildebeest. They seemed very unconcerned at the fact that I went to a vending machine and never came back. The next day was the practice round, and as always we dominated. Preparation is the key to proper performance. The other four guys helped me learn the course. Villanova Golf, always looking out for each other like a family.  We’re like straight out the Godfather. Coach Wilkes is Don Coreleone. I mean, we all wonder how he got the job from Coach Reilly. Starting to think he made an offer that Reilly couldn’t refuse.

The night before the first round I had anxiety , not about the tournament but because Steve and I were scared for our life. We decided to take the nature walk at 8pm, even though it closes at 5pm. We called a shuttle and after 40 minutes it completed its half mile journey to our stop and picked us up. We got to the nature walk and I was pretending to be scared. As we walked into the pitch black abyss of trees set over a wetland, my pretend fear began to go away in exchange for real fear. I didn’t want to let Steve know I was scared, and lucky he was walking ahead as we cautiously took one step at a time down the half mile walk (to our potential death).

We began to hear noises in the woods, which we would laugh off as nothing but our imaginations. Then we heard something up ahead, it sounded like something had jumped down from a tree onto the path. We couldn’t see anything and the noise was way up ahead so I urged Steve on. He walked about five feet and then we saw two eyes staring back at us from about ten feet away. They looked like the eyes of the devil. Steve whispered to me “I think its time to turn…” and before he said “around” I was already sprinting back down the path. I wasn’t screaming and I wasn’t crying but it was somewhere in between. At one point I looked back and didn’t see Steve because of the darkness and was convinced he had been caught. We finally made it out, and didn’t stop running until we made it to the nearest building complex. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, so the next day the 8-foot downhill putts didn’t really scare me at all.

The first round went well, and I was quite pleased with my play. I shot 2-over, and our team was in 5th place. It was not great, but it was not a bad spot. Once the tournament started focus increased and nights became quieter. The second day we charged ahead to 3rd place, and positioned ourselves in the final group.

The final day, we were playing with perennial powerhouses Notre Dame and Louisville. The whole Villanova Golf Family came out to support. We had each other, our families, Coach, Father Hagen and even an appearance from the man, the myth, the legend Coach Will Reilly. I was on the fifth hole when a helicopter appeared overhead and he flew down in grand fashion. He was with all his new PGA Tour Friends, Tim Finchem, Phil Mickelson and even Shooter McGavin. Well, actually he just arrived on hole 8 to watch me make par, offer me a Gatorade and give me a little cheer up. Nothing better than seeing Coach Reilly, he is always good to bring a smile to anyones face after a bad hole.

We continued to grind on this 3rd day, but the cards simply didn’t align. Although we held the lead at one point early in the round we eventually fell back to our original position and finished 3rd. If you look at the history of Villanova golf it is a great finish, but the future of Villanova Golf is bright.

 2011 coming soon- hopefully…

 Highlights to look forward to:

-       Rob Meador screaming “Wildcats!” on the putting green at Bethpage

-       Michael believing to have found the fountain of youth and drinking out of what turned out to be drainage from the clubhouse in Newport

-       An epic game of dibbles that almost got Central Connecticut State thrown out of the hotel

-       A night out wandering Notre Dame

-       Our fight for a second Big 5 Championship.

September 19-21, 2011

Adam's Cup of Newport

My adrenaline was pumping and I just couldn’t wait to get out onto Newport National to start my round. Not even starting on a 185 yard par 3 with a pin tucked against a pond could contain my excitement. I was like a 13 year old girl waiting in line for Justin Biebers autograph…which would basically be the same as if I was in line waiting for his autograph. However, we were delayed because “someone” vandalized the 18th green. I have suspicions that it was our very own Rob Meador who took a joyride on a stolen ATV the night before.  His only alibi is that he was sleeping in the hotel room in the bed next to me, and to be honest…I can’t verify his location while I was asleep. In fact I imagine after I feel asleep, he went out to a rave, met up with his friend from home, Rick Ross, and they stole ATVs and decided to vandalize the course. I don’t know who Rob thinks he is fooling with his friendly, affable, polite personality. I see right through his schemes.

While the coaches figured out how to handle the problem, the 5 of us had a players meeting and realized that golf was too easy and we wanted an extra challenge out on the course. It was decided that we would all work in the phrase “That’s the way the cookie crumbles” as many times as possible when talking to coach. After we performed our blood oath of commitment to the idea, it was time to hit the links.

My first hole was a par 3, I didn’t want to make it too obvious too early so I waited until my second opportunity. The 16th hole, a 236 yard par 3. The hole has received the recognition from Brian Colbert as the Worst Hole in Golf two years running. As coach and I had a heated discussion over which club to hit, it was eventually decicded via “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” that I would hit my 2 iron hybrid. I said “Well, if I hit a good shot and end up short I won’t be upset. Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles”. It was seemingly the perfect motto for the Wildcats on this thirty-six hole day.

We got off to a slow start, before coming back hot in the first round to find ourselves in 3rd place right up with Georgia, Texas Tech and UCF. Little old Villanova, with a population of 11,000 going up against the entire state of Georgia who has a population of 9.5 million. We were severely outnumbered, and our chances of winning the battle looked bleak should the 5 of us have to take on all of Georgia. Thankfully, this is only golf, not war and although the Spartans did it in the movie 300 I think our lack of superhuman strength such as they possessed would make victory unattainable. Coach had to explain to me that only a few of the citizens of Georgia actually go to school there, and even less play for the golf team. It makes sense, because I was wondering why Rannulph Junuh wasn’t in the lineup for them.

Coach then explained to me that The Legend of Bagger Vance was not a documentary as I had previously thought. Other movies that aren’t based on true events that I thought were until coach told me: Blair Witch Project, Happy Gilmore, Caddyshack, Space Jam, E,T, and Lion King. I am skeptical about Lion King because Coach couldn’t offer anyway to disprove that Simba is real or those events occured.  Nonetheless Georgia is still the defending national champion, and a perennial powerhouse poised for another great year. At that moment we were toe to toe, and head to head with them. Well Colbert, Meador and I might not have been head to head…maybe head to chest. With the wind howling in the afternoon things continued to look bright for the Villanova Wildcats.

 

Spring Break: February 28-March 6, 2011

Wendy's Charleston Shootout and USF Invitational

 

Some would certainly call the winter and early spring’s weather conditions ideal for athletes. Unfortunately that would be for skiers, bobsledders and professional snowball fighters, not golfers. We still have yet to play golf outdoors, although time has been put in at Golftec mastering swing mechanics, and hours have been devoted to watching The Legend of Baggar Vance. Rumor has it that Villanova traveled to TPC of Tampa Bay for their first tournament. I am told I was there, yet all I recall is sleeping in the locker room, some sort of flashing lights, and a hazy memory of even getting home. So I doubt this event occurred, and based on what I remember, if the rumors are true… i imagine that we performed as well as the questionable rumors of Corey Fisher scoring 105 points. I asked senior captain Brenden Kelly about the event and he stated “sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.” This left me more confused so I questioned Conor Casey who said “Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life.” Nothing…so finally I asked Steve Skurla who explained “When you get knocked off the horse, you get back on right? But what if your not riding a horse and its actually a zebra?” Nothing was making any sense to me, so I prefer to pretend that tounament didn’t exist.

Spring Break 2011, the beginning of the Jim Wilkes era. From the start things seemed to be going too well. The van ride was jovial, and far too much fun. When Tinie Timpeh’s “Written in the stars” came on the radio I showed the guys my own rap freestlye over the same beat.  They didn’t laugh at my face, so I knew it was impressive, and not completely embarrassing. At the airport things got weird, real quick. We went to eat food, and Colin List lost his bag in the food court. As he searched relentlessly for his bag like somebody desperately trying to find Waldo the plane began to board. He went to security, who informed him that his bag had been reported as a “mysterious item”, however the issue was resolved, and he barely made the plane in time. Amazingly everybody made the plane in time. Colin and I sat in the very back row, and decided to write a collaborative rap. Watch out Drake and Lil Wayne, MoneyMike and Bullets (List, a bulleted list…nevermind we can just say his rap name is C-List).

Upon landing, Brenden Kelly defied all logic and figured out how to fit 6 golf bags, 6 travel bags and another 5 bags of Robert Galbreath’s into the van. A remarkable feat of the mind, that Brendan compared to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Close call in my opinion.

We flew in at night to Jacksonville, Fl and made a relatively short drive to Sea Island, GA to stay at Coach Wilkes’ fathers house. Which I will say was a absolutely luxurious. His house was right on the beach. Robert Galbreath even took advantage immediately to jump into the 60 degree water and swim at 11:00 PM while we all thought he was crazy. Honestly, I would have joined him but I truly believe different animals exist in the water at night. The Loch Ness was probably out there, Big Foot was probably bathing, a 200 foot shark was probably lurking nearby. Somehow Rob survived. We returned from our beach adventure to play some Jenga. I am not sure people realized that I once thought about pursuing a professional career as a Jengist, so naturally I was completely within my comfort zone. The hands of these amateurs started to quiver as the tower grew higher and the structure tenuous. In the end Conor Casey lost, and the great thing about Jenga is everybody else won! After this it was time for sleep, and I was not aware this would be my only night all night with a bed, but I will admit I slept in a rather creepy room. It was a young girls room that actually caused me nightmares…and Colin claims I slept walk, but I didn’t. I stayed up all night once to see if I walk in my sleep, and I don’t.

After a nights sleep, we packed up to begin our journey to Charleston, which first stopped at Savannah Harbor to get a day of practice. Great work by Coach Wilkes finding a course with great practice facilities and also a course that seemingly imported the biggest alligators from all across Florida. It was on this day I realized my goal of the trip was to touch an alligator, however the 8 foot ones at this course were a little intimidating. I did get my chance later in the trip. We played underclassmen versus upperclassmen on this day, and although the underclassmen lost, it must be noted that Coach was with the upperclassmen and that alone is a 5 shot difference.

Some highlights from the round for me would be barely breaking 50 on the front 9, but shooting even on the back. Also Brian Colbert and Robert Galbreath birdying a 650 yard par 5 into the wind by hitting 4 irons within 10 feet and making the putts. After the round we went to Mrs. Wilkes house in Savannah and enjoyed what was by far the best meal of the week. I also had the opportunity to meet the greatest cat in the world. He is 100% blind, but its almost like he is a superhero because he was jumping on chairs, weaving in and out of people’s legs and maybe I was imagining things but at one point I think Conor Casey was about to trip into the fireplace and the cat grabbed his leg and held him up, effectively saving his life. We left Savannah stuffed with some of the best homemade cooking I have ever had (besides my own mothers!).

We now had a long drive to Charleston, SC and I think we all learned something very important about one of our teammates. As Colin, Conor, Brenden and I played a phone version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire we learned that Rob Galbreath has seen every movie ever made, and can quote about half of each movies dialogue. He has even seen Bring it on 3: All or Nothing….6 times. Although we found Rob’s greatest talent, the van and entire trip was covered with a looming feeling of disappointment over never correctly answering the million dollar question.

We arrived at the hotel and immediately Colin and Rob ripped off their shirts, found the 24 hour gym and got a late night beach muscle work-out. I have no proof, but Colbert and I think Colin left at 4 am each morning to work out and then snuck back in the room. The practice round at The Links of Stono Ferry, was thrilling and exciting. Minutes after I pretended to barely miss a wedge shot for the camera, we stopped rolling and Brian actually did hole out, then screamed at us for not videotaping. The practice round was casual, as we worked on our games for only the second time on grass. We each tried to work the rust off our game to get ready for the 36 hole marathon the next day.

It is always hard for me to note how others played during tournament rounds…since I am busy playing my own round. I started off with a great 5 iron on a diffucult par 3 to about 12 feet and proceeded to 3 putt. An ideal start…you never want to birdie the first hole. It simply creates too much pressure. Apparently as a team we went 7 over on this par 3, so this hole was our early demise. Some other day 1 highlights would have to be having a 16 hole stretch…with only 3 pars. It was a very turbulent round of golf. I managed a 77, which for the first round of the season was not something I could be too upset about. There was certainly room for improvement, not just for me but the team. Brendan led the team with a score of even, followed by Brian with a score of 2 over. Our upperclassmen were continuing to set a great example and come out early and play well.

The next round was a solid round as a team, considering our low score was +2 and our high score was +4, so it was clear each of us were improving. Relative to the field we were not in great shape, but tell me this: How many sports films are ever about the favorite doing the expected and winning? All movies are underdog, come from behind stories of triumph. So given Colin and I are both in acting class, we are drawn towards the dramatic and we both hoped to make a story worthy of a Disney channel original movie. However, on this windy March day, no legendary tales were formed, and looks like we will not be getting our movie based on this event.

The last day we struggled, and I think the reason is quite obvious. Momentum is a huge part of sports, and we had to watch Villanova basketball get trounced by Notre Dame the night before. We watched our fellow Villanova student athletes drop their heads in shame, and I think it directly affected our play. Which is why next fall, I am going to propose we begin attending Womens Cross Country Meets, because I have heard they haven’t lost since the invention of the iPad (so about a year and a half?). Certainly this will boost our confidence. All in all, this event was not our best, but our first real tournament so it was tough to expect to play at the highest level we can. Brenden Kelly turned in a great performance of +3, good enough for a T-12. Not only was this a great finish, but he did this while suffering a mysterious back ailment. He compared himself to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines. He described hitting it into the trees and how he was indifferent because he keeled over in pain from his back and didn’t even know where his ball went. Motivational. He grinded and played through the pain, but found the pain too much and pulled himself out of the next event. Anybody who knows Brendan would know that about the only thing that keeps him from playing golf are tornados (although he has played through one) and injuries that could result in death. So it seemed to us all that BK was in more pain than we could imagine.

After the disappointing finish we traveled back to Mr. Wilkes house in Sea Island. This is when things got a little out of hand. Rob knows I am quite the rap fan, but he didn’t know I dabble in writing my own raps. So he decided to challenge me to a 3 round rap battle. We each got 15 minutes to write completely new material out of our heads. I contest to winning both rounds, however the judges awarded myself victory in the first and Rob victory in the 2nd. . The stage for round 3 has yet to be set, but be certain “it will go down like an avalanche. Straight skill, no luck rob aint gotta chance.” Just some more rhymes, they come without me even realizing it sometimes. I had to sleep on the floor, which was great because it set up what I believe to be the most embarrassing video of me captured all week. I found myself a beanie baby named Marbles and well, I really enjoyed his company. (inside joke) We finally got some sleep, and today was one of the best days I’ve had as a Villanova Golfer (although everyone is great). We were bestowed with the honor of playing Sea Island’s Seaside course. Neither Colin or I brought our flipcams, so I will sum up the day in one word, amazinglyspectaculardopeness.

I had to combine words, I haven’t checked Merriam-Webster recently, but I think that is in there. Steve Skurla made the drive from his grandparents to play with us and make the day even more enjoyable. There wasn’t anything overly exciting, especially since we were on our best behavior. Although I will note that I planned to buy something in the pro-shop but the first thing I found was a polo sweater….for 400$. I settled for a few packs of Sea Island matches and free plastic ballmarks. The day was capped off with a great seafood dinner, and Dairy Queen. We then returned to the house, played yahtzee, discussed the meaning of life. Colin came up with what I believe is the answer. He said “Life is desire”… deep right? Just think about it. Desire to be great, desire to be loved, desire to be remembered. When asking Conor Casey he said “Life isn’t real, this is a dream within a dream, about a dream. See, I’m telling you guys, it is the stupidest movie ever.” Yes, we are all concerned for the mental wellbeing of Conor, as he and that emo girl in my math class are the only people not to like Inception.

After a good nights sleep, we packed up and were ready to make our way down to USF for their tournament. I decided to take one last trip to the beach, and although I tried to find a companion, nobody would accompany me. What should have been a pleasant walk and back turned into a case of life and death. After this adventure having made it safely back to the van, we departed and everybody slept. I basically woke up 5 hours later at the course. And after settling into our villa Coach Wilkes made what could be the defining speech of our season. As we met at the range he told us things had to change. Gone was the old Villanova Golf Program, and the new regime was coming. He demanded full execution in the practice rounds, full attention in the rounds and asked for our commitment to give our hearts to the V we so proudly wear. I truly think this speech resonated with everybody, because the practice round compared to Charleston was far more serious, and focused. The older players with experience on the course offered all the advice they could, and Rob and I soaked in everything they had to offer. We had no excuse not to play well. Highlight and disappointment of the round for me was “touching” an alligator. There was a small, probably 4 foot gator on the bank of the pond on the second hole. I began to approach him, I had my utility iron for safety should he attack. He saw me coming, turned his head to face me and dared me to back down, but I refused. I got closer, reached out my iron and tapped the back of his tail to let him know I was ready to fight. He got scared, and went into the water…I was about to chase him in, but realized it would provide the gator with a distinctive home field advantage and I think some of the upperclassmen may have held me back and dragged me back to the green. We finished the round, and I suppose one plus is that I didn’t lose my hand (R.I.P. Chubbs) We went to sleep that night fully prepared to take on Lake Jovita.

Well, before that we went to Ruby Tuesdays and I went to wash my hands, and obviously I had a serious mental lapse and found myself washing my hands in the womens bathroom. I was in their about 40 seconds before Rob who saw me out of the corner of his eye, peaked in and said “uhh Michael, this is the girls bathroom, I’m not sure what your trying to do but I think you could get in trouble.” He was right, so I immediately left and went to the appropriate bathroom to finish washing my hands. The meal was delicious, yet at the end of the meal our waiter asked us “What is Villanova?”  I think he believed it was a company, and we had to explain that we are the best school in the nation and future NCAA Golf champions. Obviously, Villanova and Villanova Golf did not have the respect it deserved, and we planned to change that starting the next morning. Philosophy class (my creative writing time) is ending, which will explain the numerous philosophy references throughout the blog this spring...but also means I'm leaving the readers on a cliffhanger. Then again these events already happened so...its almost like watching a WW2 movie and being worried about what is going to happen. Trust me, there is going to be alot more betrayal, backstabbing, lies, romance, tragedy and most importantly triumph then ever before seen in the Villanova Golfing World. 

 October 16-17, 2010

Lincoln Mercury Invitational

This tournament at this point is a blur to me, so I will keep it short. The competition was intense, brutal, unrurly and we all left our hearts on the battlefield. Yep, that’s right we played 2 on 2 “dibbles”. As the veteran of the group I had to explain  Steve Skurla, Brian Colbert and Colin List the rules. A golf tee is broken in half and the smaller portion is taken to the bottom of the pool where it slowly floats to the top. The competitors wait and maneuver around the outside of the pool for the tee to arise and to try and be the first to come up with the tee. Sounds simple, but the elusive tee is comparable to trying to catch Derek Jones not stunting as the tee wavers and splashes with every movement of the water.

Colin and I had the clear advantage as I have years of experience and at this point I am looking into a professional career. (Well, I looked into it and there is no professional sport anywhere close to relating). I think the biggest mistake made was when I described the game as full contact and neglected to specify that its full contact when in the pool. Brian Colbert took to these full contact rules and decided to box-out/ body check Colin into the concrete floor, before jumping in for the tee. It was a dirty move, something only expected from experienced players. I commend him on the move, but at the same time did not want to see an injury.

This only gave us motivation to crush them, and lead us to a 10-2 victory. After this Colin and I returned to the room, listened to Justin Bieber rap, which if you haven’t seen needs to be checked out. The rest of the night was rather uneventful, although I am told that a post-wedding party kept the rest of the guys up and Colin became so frustrated he debated joining the party, before deciding against it.

We woke up in the morning, had a great delicious breakfast at the hotel before making our way to the course. We had the honor of playing with Lehigh and Drexel, and the legendary Kyle Davis, Drexel assistant coach, walked with our group advising his player. Undoubtedly the best assistant coach in the area after Villanova’s own Jim Wilkes (who is the best assistant coach in the country). I didn’t play my best through 14 holes and I was at 3 over. I then went 7 over on the last 4 holes to finish at 82, which was upsetting, as it was my only score all fall not to count towards the team.

Conor, BK and Brian all had solid rounds putting us in 3rd place. We were in the final group for the 3rd time out of our five fall tournaments. We hoped this would be the time we finally won. We were beginning to fell like Denzel Washington at the Oscars. How many times can we be so close and fall just short. Perhaps we need to look at Denzel and how he eventually broke through and won.

It was by playing a villainous character in Training Day. Maybe if we take on a villainous role we will win. Is it time for us to start playing dirty, maybe laughing at players when they hit a bad shot, yelling in their backswings, taking lob wedges to our opponents ankles when nobody is looking? This might help us win but as I think about it I am not sure it is in the spirit of Villanova athletics. It probably won’t go over well, so perhaps we should just stick to stand-up Villanova golf. I also just don’t have it in me to do any of those things.

That night I ditched the team to have dinner with my mother, I felt bad not joining the Casey family as they hosted the team for dinner but I wanted to eat with my mother since she had driven up to the tournament and after a stressful day she is always best at calming me down. We went to a diner so naturally I ordered breakfast. It was a nice meal, and I returned to the hotel.  The team enjoyed a relaxing hot tub session and spent the evening practicing putting in the hotel room. My confidence was killed by this “practice”, as Steve Skurla embarrassed me in our competition.

The next day I was first off for the team heading out in the final pairing. Was this the day our wildest dreams would come true? Probably not because if anyone’s wildest dream is to win the Seton Hall Intercollegiate Invitational then they need to rethink their dreams, especially their wildest ones. My wildest dream might consist of being a world famous rapper performing to a sold-out audience at the Wells Fargo Center, dating Selena Gomez and being able to fly, and also turn water into Sprite (true fact: increases your putting accuracy 57%). Those are just a few ideas for my dream come true situation, but anyway back to the round.

It was much calmer conditions, but this didn’t make much of a difference as I got off to a worse start than before and really lost it on the start of the back nine. I stumbled in for a 78, and our team into 3rd place. We didn’t bring our A game and knew we were not going to have a chance to win coming down the stretch, but we sure played 18 like we wanted to win. Our last three players BK, Conor and BC all made birdie on the final hole with Conor and Brian making lengthy sliders. Unfortunately they didn’t throw any fist pumps.

As a matter of fact, very few fist pumps were thrown by our team this tournament. We really need to harness our inner Pauly D and work on our fist pumping. I talked to Coach Reilly about this and he has discussed allowing Bret McGaughey and Rob Galbreath to conduct a three-hour seminar over the winter on the art of throwing a fist pump on the course. Other winter seminars include “Emotions: How to control them to best optimize your game” by Joe Carlson, “ Golf Fashion: the benefits of wearing Khaki and White everyday” by Conor Casey, and lastly Brian and I will lead a discussion on “Technology and Golf: How to best use cell phones on the course”.

Well as you can see we have a lot going on this winter, and a lot to improve on for the mental aspect of the game. Looking into the near future we have a great event planned in conjunction with the First Tee, that I am personally really excited about. We will have the chance to play with some youngsters at Walnut Lane and teach them everything we have learned and I will probably learn just as much from them.

 

October 10, 2010

Big 5 Invitational, Final Day

            As I stated for the Philadelphia Inquirer, I felt we were playing well enough and had a good enough team that the Big 5 teams were not a worry and we wanted to win the whole event. This was very wrong, especially when Coach comes up to me with 9 holes left and tells me “We are not looking good…at all, can you stop making triple bogeys?” I thought we were fine, but as it turns out we truly had our backs against the wall after BK doubled 8, I tripled 8 and Conor doubled 9. To make this easier and give the effect of how things went I will give the feedback I received each hole of the back 9 as to our position in the Big 5. 

10: Things are not looking good…at all

11: It's okay that you missed that birdie, make one here. That will help

12: Turns out Colbert is playing great…we are going to win

13: Stop making bogeys Michael…

14: Did you just miss a 5 foot birdie putt….well we are fine for the Big 5 anyway.

15: Did you just miss another 5 foot birdie putt!….well turns out Colbert took a 2 stroke penalty and things are really close.

16: Good par…Looks like we need some birdies though

17: Good birdie…I think we are tied.

18: Colbert just made birdie…all we need is a par. 

          So sitting 103 yards out on 18 to a back pin and I hit my wedge 106 yards so im thinking just choked down a little and it will be perfect. I hit it, lands next to the hole and skips into the rough and doesn’t backspin. Now I am shortsided, with a bad lie thinking I need to get up and down. Hit a 64 degree wedge to about 8 feet. With about as much pressure as I could feel I stroked the down hill putt, got it on its line and put it in the heart.

          I felt great, turns out it was to win by 2, but still it was awesome to win. The win should be credited to Brian Colbert who shot four under on the last 9 holes, and 2 under for the round with a 2 stroke penalty that he nobly called on himself. It was a very similar situation to Runolph Junah in Legend of Bagger Vance. Nobody knew but Brian, but he had the honor to call the penalty on himself. I guess that would make Coach Reilly Bagger Vance. Coach Reilly has some great stories but is he legendary? Some argue yes, and some no….but the main thing is he and Will Smith are very different looking so this metaphor is losing steam quick.

          I’m also leading myself towards ripping on Coach which I am trying not to do for this entry (It's hard…everything can lead to a perfect setup). As for the tournament we came in 8th and 1st in the Big 5. Brian Colbert led the team, with 143 and receiving All-Big 5 honors, followed by BK and myself at 148. Steve Skurla competing as an individual shot 146 to receive All-Big 5 as well. Tournament was great, not just because of our success but because it was excellently run by Temple in coordination with the club. As a transfer from the University of Kentucky it was secretly a goal of mine for our team to beat them …but they had a great second day to come in 3rd, comfortably beating us.

          I couldn’t be prouder of Joey Barr coming in 2nd overall. Chase P, and Brian Belden also had great tournaments and it was great to see all my old friends. They have a great young team and I hope we get the opportunity to play against them again. Post round celebration at Ye’ Olde Ale House was great. The five of us ate their world famous roast beef sandwiches and with the trophy sitting on the table proclaimed our victory to all those in the restaurant, the celebration didn’t end there though.

          We immediately road tripped to Atlantic City pawned off the Big 5 trophy for 300$, and spent the night gambling. After watching the movie 21 we became proficient card counters and made over $10,000, which Conor used to get married and divorced in a span of 2 hours to a girl whose name he never asked. We went back to make some more money at one of the casinos but the pit boss caught on to our card counting, took BK to a back room, roughed him up and took all the money except exactly the $300 needed to get the trophy back. So Big 5 coaches…rest easy, the trophy will be back next year but only long enough for the two days until we take it back again. Great day to be a wildcat.

*Disclaimer…Portions of our trip to Atlantic City are not true…ok, all of it was fictitious*

October 9, 2010

Big 5 Invitational, Day 1

            The weekend of reckoning was finally upon us, and we were ready. Pre-round warm-up went gloriously, with Brendan Kelly and Conor Casey claiming to hit off the greatest grass he ever has witnessed, touched or caressed. No adequate answer was provided as to why they were touching and caressing the range grass. Regardless I made my way to the putting green and proceeded to putt my first attempt 20 feet past the hole I was aiming right into another.

            After a bunch of people commented on the great putt I figured I had to go with the lie and tried to putt my next one to the hole I just accidentally made….but my speed was equally bad and hit it 20 feet past that one into the rough. After a team prayer it was ready to attack the course. Colin List was first off and really got us rollin early with a three wood into the right trees. It was awful…looked like a hybrid of Dustin Johnson, and Charles Barkley on the tee.

           However I am serious…it really got things rolling for us, made us feel much more comfortable. No matter what we did on the first tee we would still hit it better than what we had just witnessed. To his credit Colin made par. I was next up, and the first hole was quite routine…3 wood, 8 iron to the front of the green…80ft putt from the fringe for birdie. No fist pump thrown. Follwed that with a double bogey on the second hole, so things balanced quickly.

           At the end of the day I was 30 yards out, up and down for 70. I proceeded to hit it in the bunker and make bogey for 72. Through the front 9 we were reportedly leading the tournament by 7 shots…and well we gave away some shots on the back 9 and ended up in 3rd place. We were disappointed and felt we could have played better, which left us optimistic for the next day.

           Fan support was high today and when asked how the team looked spectator and player Brian Murphy stated “ Michael, what are you doing out here? You look like a hack, I would have birdied every hole I’ve seen you play” Possibly true, but what was I supposed to do. I opted to challenge him on the fact nobody successful has ever come out of his home state of Connecticut, while PA is filled with stars of every category. Jim Furyk or Arnold Palmer, Wilt Chamberlain, Will Smith…I mean think of any category and PA is by far the best state. We dominate other states…dominate!

           Anyway a shocking revelation came to be in the postround clubhouse team debriefing (aka lunch). After Seton Hall tried to play mind games with us by showing us some David Blaine level Card tricks…I’m still getting headaches trying to figure out how they did it…I asked the team if Seton Hall is a university of wizardry, or maybe the Seton Hall player attended Hogwarts.

           Upon hearing this Brendan Kelly admitted something he has kept secret for years, he is an avid Harry Potter fan and claims to know more about the books than anyone else. I immediately challenged him on this fact because as someone who was once Harry Potter for Halloween, I think I might know more. So it is currently in the works to find out who knows more via the fairest means…a wizarding duel. Robes, wands, an arena of thousands….it will be battle to the death. The seriousness of the situation became apparent to me when Brenden pulled out his messenger owl to send his aunt a message right from the course and left that day a broom claiming to have spotted the snitch. My chances look slim.

           Well, it looks like were going to be in good shape going into the final round. When asking what he planned to do that night to get ready for the next day Colin List stated “I have a strict tradition of a three hour workout every night, regarldless of what golf I have the next day. I only work out the upper body, the muscles that make the ladies go crazy.” Certainly with the large crowds the whole team hoped to make everyone go crazy the final day.

 October 8, 2010

Big 5 invitational: Practice Round

     The Big 5, one of the most amazing traditions in collegiate athletics. Not only was is it by nature the biggest event of our fall season, it was our opportunity to officially claim city bragging rights. Annually the tournament is played at gorgeous Philadelphia Cricket Club, but this year it was contested at Plymouth Country Club. Although I was worried about this transition as I am a fan of Philadelphia Cricket and have always played well there, but soon after arriving all worry was gone when I got on the range.

The range/ warm-up situation made me realize that this course was to be on the same level as past years. After our warm-up we hit the course which in all honesty was in great condition all weekend, with the greens as pure as any course in the area. Things were very tense early on as we tried to navigate the challenging tight course. The second hole proved tough when we realized our drives had to land at exactly 267 yards or else we would make a triple bogey.

This continued on the fourth hole when Coach Wilkes said if we went for the green we'd probably make double digits. Two holes later Conor Casey hit what looked to be a shot down the middle, but Wilkes out in the fairway began to drive back. We knew he meant business and to be honest I was intimidated by this level of intensity. He informed Conor he was in terrible position, which left me thinking I might just hit wedge off the tee to just play safe.

The rest of the practice round is a blur to me, although I am told I shot something that was probably in the 90's. Naturally I was pleased because I always believe the worse you play in a practice round the better the actual tournament will go. However I do remember on my last hole, 16, before leaving to go take an exam an act of unforgivable vandalism taking place.

Colin List's golf ball was violated, and on the merit of the mascot of the perpetrators team being able to destroy ours in a 1v1 battle I will not name any names.(You know who you are, and vengeance might be seeked!...but probably not!) Which leads me to my pre-Big 5 breakdown of how I see this tournament going based on the most important factor...mascot.

Villanova: Wildcat
Temple: Owl
Lasalle: Explorer
Penn: Quaker
St. Josephs: Hawk

A wildcat. Will D. Cat is a very friendly wildcat, he seems to have a smile on his face. We need to bring back the oldschool wildcat of my youth, the one who made me cry when I was 6 years old. He was scary. But an actual wildcat, I'm not too sure as to how this would shake out. Some wildcats are intimidating if we count lions. If we imagine a wildcat as a dumpster cat such as I saw in the city last night then I don't like our chances. If its a baby wildcat it could get swooped by an owl, then again a lion like Simba (from the Lion King,  and also once my rap name) would grab that thing one pawed as it attacked and destroy it. Also if we use Lion King as an accurate resource of Lions we would be the best singing team in the big 5.

Lasalle and Penn can be lumped together cause a lion would eat a human if a one on one battle came to place. Lastly a hawk, just a single hawk. Thats a joke, a wildcat would reach up and pull it out of the air and it would be game over.  Given the facts...here is how I rank the mascots

1. Wildcat
2. Explorer/Quaker
3. Owl (They can see in the dark, that gives them the edge)
4. Hawk

Drexel does not count because they picked an imaginary animal for their mascot...however I will admit a dragon would reign supreme over the other mascots. 

*Spoiler Alert* Great practice round by Steve Skurla and Brian Colbert, I could see them finishing solidly this weekend (okay this might be unfair since I wrote this after the tournament).

The dinner was great and one of the best dinners we have had all season. Guest Speaker Fran Dunphy spoke on the importance of teamwork and just everything that makes golf the great game it is. Being a basketball fan I really enjoyed his speech, but the real highlight came when we honored Rhode Island coach and gave him a standing ovation since this is his last year of coaching. (At the RI hosted Adams Cup we gave him 3 standing ovations, he must be raking them in everywhere!)

At dinner the coaches sat at their own table to discuss the inner workings of Philly Golf, very mafiaso like. Not sure what they could have been discussing, but as I walked by I overheard one of the coaches say "We are bigger than the police, we are bigger than the city, we run Philadelphia!" Followed by hearty laughs and affirmations of this comment. I think I could be on to something...hopefully I can find more proof to this theory than my other one based on the movie Inception that we are currently in a dream and in the real world I am the emperor of a distant planet in the Ortanius Galaxy 6. I'm not sure...both are likely, just lacking proof...for now.

Philadelphia Golf has one of the most storied traditions in golf and I can't wait to take part in the Big 5 for the first time and hopefully win. I have been slow on the updates for this, but since I don't have classes I don't have notes not to take, which means I can't distract myself and write the blog. Expect rounds 1 and 2 of the Big 5, the Philadelphia U tournament and our Seton Hall tournament all coming this weekend. 

September 27th, 2010

Villanova Golf Outing

A wonderful day. Need anything more be said. The weather was beautiful (if your Emily Dickenson, or for people who didn't like English class...Edward Cullen from Twilight...and for the guys who weren't forced to see that with their girlfriends I have nothing for you except to say it was raining).

I arrived late, but still had the opportunity to play some holes on the marvelous Donald Ross designed Sunnybrook Golf Club. The tournament itself was a dogfight, throughout the afternoon I could hear the crowds awe as 1985 Big East Champ alum Hugh Reilly and Colin List battled each other for long drive on each hole. Apparently on one hole Hugh ripped a driver, turned to Colin and said "That's a golf shot for ya kid", to which Colin pulled out a 1 iron, dedicated the shot to Ben Hogan flew it 15 yards past Hugh. It was the shot heard round the...group. I mean it wasn't that big of a deal.

Philadelphia golfing legend and 1985 Big East Champ Alum Chet Walsh was out there scooping up more pro-shop credit. I've heard reports he pulls in an annual income of $20,000 in pro-shop credit from golf tournaments, outings and club championships. But today was not his group's day to take the title, as a group of ringers that I personally suspect go from outing to outing claiming pro-shop credit and eating like kings shot an unbelievable 49 to win the event.

When I say unbelievable I mean it literally....like I don't believe it. I'm convinced they skipped some holes, played the wrong format, took 1$ mulligans which were not in effect, or possible they really did shoot 49. We got our team and individual pictures taken, which got me thinking that perhaps next year we could do a swimsuit calendar, and sell them to raise money. Could be a good idea as long as Coach Reilly doesn't demand to me Mr. July. We could face some issues when people get to that month, turn the calendar and are instantly traumatized from the sight. Maybe not the best idea I suppose....

At dinner coach decided to give the players an opportunity to speak which could have been a mistake. Putting a microphone in my hand at public engagements in the past has resulted in issues. 8th grade soccer captains speech= week of detention, Honor Council High School elections speech= me forgoing the formal speech and giving a rap= elected!...Senior Mother Son Luncheon= My mother being completely embarrassed by me(the kids loved the speech though, but mother comes first) Golf Captains speech 12th grade= A 5 minute explanation of how our team was just like Al Pacino and Matthew McConaghey in Two for the Money.

Luckily coach didn't tell me before hand that I would have the opportunity to speak so I had nothing planned except being courteous, thanking those who came out and stating how great it is to be apart of the Villanova Family. All in all it truly was great to have all the people come out and see the support for Villanova Golf, and as we continue to prove just how talented our team is we hope to build more support.

The dinner was delicious, and it was great to interact with Villanova alumni and supporters. I'm proud to report that after our first set of tournaments we are ranked 119 with a 20-6 record and Brenden Kelly is 197 with a remarkable 145-2 record. Not to brag...but I'm currently ranked 23rd out of all people named Michael, which I thought was impressive until I realized Brett is 4th out of all people named Brett. Not fair because Michael is a far more popular name. Its times like this I wish they had made a typo on my birth certificate and I was named Michaem...then I'd be number 1 for my name.

Lastly, Villanova golf now has an official twitter....which means you have to get twitter and follow @VillanovaGolf for up to the minute action on our program! Have you ever wondered what Lady Gaga song Brian Murphey listens to before rounds to get pumped up? What color socks I might be wearing for the day? Ever felt the need for up to the minute notice for every Brett McGaughey fist pump? Workout tips on how to get buff like Jimmy Johnston? Links to the newest Villanova Golf rap songs? All that and more can be found on Twitter!

Adams Cup of Newport

The final day of the Adams Cup was a great day. That's easy for me to say because it will be a day I will never forget. It was my 14th hole, which is my favorite number and I hit a 6 iron, which is my favorite club. It was September 20th. So 14 minus 6 equals 8 which plus 20 is 28 which divided by 2(Number of my all time favorite Villanova Player Randy Foye) gives you 14. Minus the par which was 3...giving you 11. Then times that by the amount of golf holes in a round (18) and that gives you 198. Now I know your confused....but 198 is the yardage of the first golf hole I ever completed in one shot! I mean clearly given the amazing connection of all the numbers it was obviously fate.

I've always wondered when I'd have my first hole-in-one, and the problem was that I just didn't realize there was an equation so simple that could have told me the day, club, hole and yardage. Alright, maybe I kind of forced that whole equation, but still it was a shot I won't ever forget.

I was playing poorly and was pretty angry. I had my club to the tucked, back right pin picked already and was over the ball ready to swing with 50% concentration, 25% anger and 25% luck. I hadn't taken any practice swings, but backed off asked coach what the yardage was then stepped back up to my ball and hit it perfect. It was a high soft draw.

Later when describing the shot Conor Casey asked "Soft draw? Was it too soft?" To which Brian Colbert responded "It went in the hole...I can't imagine it was too soft." I had to agree with him.

I always imagined that when I had my first ace I would run around, throwing clubs in the air screaming and acting like a fool. This isn't exactly what I did, I went from being incredibly frustrated to shocked. I stood there staring at the hole, the location my ball just disappeared with a feeling of disbelief. I just stared at the hole, thinking "No...wait....really?" And this seemed to go through my mind for quite sometime until Coach Wilkes ran over for the high five. I barely remember high fiving all the other coaches and players on the tee.

I then remember seeing Conor in the distance and doing an overly obnoxious David Duval Ryder Cup fist pump impression before Brian Colbert blindsided me, almost knocking me out going for a hybrid chest-bump/hug/melee-karate attack. I wish I could say I went on to shoot a great score and we won the tournament, but I shot 76 (better than 77) and the team came in 6th.

Although I had a hole in one, Brian Colbert and Brenden Kelly led the team on this day putting up great scores of 71 and 70 respectfully. BK's round was low for the day, and good for an overall 3rd place. Quite a special weekend for BK 1st and 3rd place in our back to back tournaments! Hard to play any better.

Leaving Newport, it was easy to say it was a great weekend to be a Wildcat. The upperclassmen leadership of this team is really leading this team, which is great to see. It helps to have the leaders with clear goals not only in idea, but putting them forth and making them happen. I am happy to be along for the ride and contributing anyway I can.

I would compare this team to the Mighty Ducks from D2. It is a great team of extremely talented veterans who have proven they can be successful on their own, and now it has been infused with some young raw talent. The question everyone wants to know is whether we can beat the villainous team from Iceland. Perhaps someday they will make a movie of our team. Some likely casting choices although some impossible could be myself as Justin Bieber with Selena Gomez as my love interest, not only will this happen in the movie but if things work out as I imagine Selena and I could end up together in real life.

Some other ideas...Chris Farley as Robert Galbreath, Soulja Boy as Vince Boyle, The Situation (from Jersey Shore) as Colin List, Peter Griffin as Coach Reilly, Danny Devito as Brian Colbert, Eminem to play Brian Murphey, and Zac Efron to play Conor Casey. All other casting options are up in the air for now but I can tell this movie would be a hit!

Plot outline: When Michael suggests the team do a rap group rap battle to raise money for Villanova golf everybody is skeptical as to their rapping abilities, but agree. The team faces turbulence when Rob, Vince and Colin promise too many girls a spot in the performance forcing dance coordinator Derek Jones to quit. Things reach a boiling point when Murphy beats me in a rap battle and I quit the production, and join a rap group with crosstown rivals at St. Joes. But in the climax a stirring speech from captains BK, Conor and Colbert convince everyone to work as a team and in the end we come together to win the competition thanks to a special verse from Jimmy Johnston who nobody thought could rap. (Due to the resemblence in looks it makes sense for Lil' Wayne to play Jimmy) We need to get this production on the fast track, somebody call Ari Gold.

 

Day 2: September 20th, 2010

Adams Cup: Round 1 and 2

Wake up: 6:15. Breakfast: 6:30. Leave hotel: 6:45. Warm-up at Range: 7:00. Arrive to course: 7:45. Begin Round 1: 8:30. Begin Round 2: 1:00. Dinner in clubhouse: 7:00. Return to Hotel: 8:15. Team Meeting: 8:30. 9:00 Free Time! So tired we all fall asleep: 9:15. I guess that would be the quick version of the day. 6:15 AM till 9:00 PM, I always try to explain to people how brutal 36 holes golf days are, but those who never have done it simply don't understand. The average length walked when playing 18 holes is 11 miles, with a bag that weighs about 35 pounds. In marathons you are congratulated for just finishing, but in golf you can go through all that and have come in last place (not Villanova ever). Tomorrow we get to wake up at 6:30 AM for 18 more holes.

Today was absolutely vicious, a real battle of the elements. 20 mph winds made the course very challenging. However at dinner last night the head pro said these exact words "I'm excited to see what you guys do these next few days. If the wind is calm I know you guys will shred my course apart, but I believe that is fair. If it gets windy I expect to see scores from 67 to 69." I'm not sure if the head pro has ever played his course, or knows the course record is 67, or maybe he thought this was the final leg of the FedEx Cup Tour Championship and we were tour pros. Let me just say it was very windy and I think there was all of one round under par in the morning, not quite how the head pro described things.

I got off to a great start, 5 over through my first 5!  Things were looking good...I was on pace to shoot 90-90 for a total of 180 at which point I would possibly have quit golf and transferred residency to Belize and played for their national Soccer team, eventually playing in the World Cup (there's always plan B!). Luckily I turned things around, played the rest of my holes at par, even though I could not get a single ball to drop on the greens no matter how many times I sang "Drop It Low" in my head by Ester Dean.

BK really had a great first round, I think he started with a double bogey and still went on to have the second lowest morning score at even par.  The wind continued to howl in the afternoon, great sailing weather. After making double bogey on my second hole in the afternoon I began to consider how much I would have rather been sailing at that moment. I was once again 5 over through my first 7 holes, but put some steam in the birdie train and made three in a row, almost 4 but lipped out on my final hole of the day. 77-74, not exactly the score anybody ever hopes for but given the conditions today I was very pleased.

Villanova golf battled Newport National and it took us 305 shots the first round and 306 the second round, leaving us in 7th place. The weather looks to be tame tomorrow, which means I won't be hitting 400+ yard drives and Colbert won't have to hit driver on the 208 yard 17th.  We are well out of first place, 30 shots behind UCF. We do have a very good chance to get another top five, which given the strength of this field would be a great finish. Brendan is once again in position to take medalist honors, as is Brett should he fire a 58 tomorrow. When asked if this was possible Brett said "No".

Shout out to the boys at home playing at LuLu, you guys beat us today! Shout out to Yale Golf, who we played with today and will play with again tomorrow. Tried to dig up some dirt on my cousin who is on the girls' team, but all I got was what I already knew being that she is really good at golf. I feel like I need some cool closing phrase, or else I could ramble for pages. I'll try to work on something for next time.

At this point I don't remember much from the practice round, except Brian Colbert chasing the course record. Which I will note right now is a 67 by PGA Tour Player Brett Quigley because this will come back up later. The practice round was great, but touring Newport afterwards was dare I say...life changing. Probably not, but still it was really cool.

We drove to Newport CC, where Villanova resident Buddy Marrucci lost to Tiger Woods (PGA Tour Player...I think he won a few events some years back) in the US Amateur. We were about to sneak on.  We found a hole in the fence and everything, except Coach never stopped the car and the other guys weren't about to jump out the car going 30 mph, I was considering though

We made our way to Brenton Point/Beach. Stunning visuals, no need for a provisional here. A kite festival of sorts was taking place, and we voyaged out onto the inlet of rocks. The danger scale from 1 to 10 was about a 6 and possibly the same as riding a roller coaster with no fastenings (well that seems like a 10 though, so maybe not that dangerous). Brendan really headed this voyage wanting to get to the last possible rock although every six seconds 8 foot waves were hitting it. After this we drove on what I believe was called Mansion drive, and that would make sense because it was a drive along the cliffs with mansions all along the waterfront. We discussed the fact that perhaps if forced we would live in some of these multi-million dollars homes.

Next up, and thanks to a wrong turn came the cliff walk. It was stairs down to the middle of the bluffs to view the water crash ashore, but need I remind everyone that we are Villanova Golf. We not only take things to the next level, but we live on edges people didn't even realize existed. We hopped the railing to this G-rated viewing location and got right down on the rocks. Conor and Brendan even found a cave that could only be accessed by a 30 yard sprint across slippery rocks between waves. I wish I could say Colbert was attempting this when he took a nasty fall, but sadly he was simply walking and the numerous on-lookers laughed.

 

Beginning to feel too safe, Conor and I decided to challenge Mother Nature, we left the "dry rock", which the waves never got high enough to reach and got right down into the heart of the cove.  We waited a few minutes for a big wave, and what we saw in the distance is difficult to describe. To put it into perspective the other waves were lizards, and this was the Godzilla of waves. We checked the papers the next day to see if it was possible a tsunami had hit Newport, and although we found nothing, this clearly had all the makings of a tsunami. The wave pounced on us mercilessly. Needless to say this wave was a tumbler. We got rocked, but held our ground and didn't get swept away into the ocean and drown...so it was a success.

 

On the way back to the car one of the seemingly millions of fans we amassed quipped quite the remarkable joke to Conor. He opened with "So how's the water?...and after a look from Conor he said "Is it wet?" before laughing. This was the only joke we heard though, because the Spanish kids on the bikes made sure to inform us they were not joking about their conversation.

 

After this adventure it was time for dinner at the club. This was a conflict for Brendan who had to deal with his Redskins playing at the same time (they lost, leaving BK visibly upset and distraught, and I am sure it cost him a few shots the next day). The clam bake was delicious though, I stuffed myself full of clams, clam chowder, lobster and corn on the cob. Thankfully Conor knew how to get the meat out of the lobster because I was in the middle of trying to take a bite off its back. Finally it was time to return to the hotel, do homework and sleep.

 

September 18th, 2010

 

Newport-Rhode Island Adams Cup

 

The van ride to Newport was rather unbelievable. We really came together as a team and everyone said the conversation was better than ever before. However I was sleeping in the back row with my headphones on. So this amazing experience of the guys coming together as a team was completely missed by me, which might be why it was so amazing. I will take this moment to brag about our stop to McDonald's on the drive. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted so decided just to get everything. Not only did I order $18 worth of McDonald's food, but I ate all of it. In comparison, Brendan got a salad and only ate half. Not sure which is better.

 

We arrived to our hotel at night and Brett, Brian and I got roomed together. We spotted the indoor pool from our room window and although no words were spoken for the next five minutes we ended up down in the spa. After relaxing, I thought it would be a good idea to take the dodge ball I bought at Bethpage, flip over some pool chairs and turn the pool into a death match arena of 1v1v1 water polo.

 

With Brett throwing 70 mph heat from about 10 feet away Brian immediately saw him as a threat. We joined forces, utilizing decoys, alley-oops and teamwork comparable to the Swedish water polo team to eliminate him. With Brett eliminated we took up the entire pool for the 1v1 showdown, but then they came to close the pool and were quite confused as to why all their chairs were sideways and alongside the pool.

 

Also to note is during this game a kind older gentlemen and his daughter were enjoying a swim, until our game began and we nearly gave him numerous concussions. Turns out he was an Adams Cup main sponsor....possibly even Mr. Adams himself! The match was unfinished, but it was quite clear from the 1-1 score that I was on the path to victory.

 

Day 3: (September 18th, 2010)

 

Newport- Rhode Island Adams Cup

 

- Practice round was one of my favorite days as a Villanova athlete so far. Pictures and more details to come with a post of the practice round, trip to Newport Beach, tournament dinner, and rounds 1 and 2 will come tomorrow.

Villanova Golf is on the road to our next tournament with a championship trophy in the van. Brendan Kelly torched the course with his 66-69-72 (207) to take the individual title. Villanova Golf finding itself in the hunt for the title fought hard, but made no ground and finished 3rd. No denying this is a solid finish for the squad, and even our individuals played brilliantly. As to my own round I was hoping to get off to a great start, but being 4-over through 8 holes. I grinded to make three birdies coming in before bogeying 18 to finish with 72. Great playing by Conor Casey shooting the team low 69.

 

The upperclassmen are really leading the way for us right now. Sadly like a game of Survivor we made the trip to Bethpage with 7 players, and are heading to Newport with only 5. Joe Carlson and Rob Galbreath weren't voted off, but we simply went by the low 5 scores. When former player Kevin Fuchs made his way out to the course we thought he would for sure be the rallying point to lead us to a victory, but not even his presence could make the difference. What an awesome tournament and great to have our most fan support yet! By the end of the season, and with the help of the marketing department we should be able to get at least a few thousand people out to our home tournament.

 

Couldn't be happier my mom came to watch me, she even gave me a hug after a bogey (hope there isn't an NCAA rule against that!).  Well, we have about a four hour van ride so who knows what kind of crazy van antics are about to take place. Right now the captains are feuding over the radio music. I have to agree with Brendan pulling the power play and putting Eminem on. Time for me to try and get some homework done and to get a nap.

 

Day 2: (September 17th, 2010)

 

Rounds 1 and 2: Battle at Bethpage Begins...

 

There are many words that could describe this day, most of them positive. The 8:30 a.m. shotgun start saw the Wildcats going off in the premier pairing with the host team and West Florida. I decided to get to the range early, so unfortunately I missed out what Brendan Kelly ate for breakfast because he must have done something special as he started with five birdies in his first seven holes! Tomorrow I will keep a keen eye on his pre-round habits and be sure to follow suit and see how it works for me. When asked about Kelly's fiery start Coach Will Reilly stated "It was all my coaching."

 

With Kelly firing bridies ahead of me it was hard to concentrate with the thunderous roars of each birdie, and I didn't know what was going on when I began hearing more roars holes behind for Brian Colbert. The Sr-Jr duo combined to a first round 7 under while Robbie Galbreath, Conor Casey and myself all fired 73's. First place!!! But still 18 more holes to play and we were tied with Temple.

 

Things got chaotic in the second round when tensions rose between members of the St. Johns program and our own. Some suspect people didn't like seeing Nova at the top and were trying to take drastic measures to pull us down but as rapper T.I. once stated: "Never mind what haters say, ignore them til they fade away".

 

We did this and put up another great round led by Brendan Kelly with a 69. Third place, but only two behind Princeton who is in first. We will be in the final group tomorrow and not a single player on our team is shocked, but we are making waves around the Big East. Coaches were stunned at not only the play of our top players but of the transfers, freshman and individuals. I think people are scared of our potential. I also think people are just scared of Brian Colbert when he has a club in his hand.

 

Also worth noting was how great the team looked in our Navy shirts today, we were the second best dressed team out there. No colleges need be mentioned, but when one player goes to the extra effort to gel slick back his hair it needs to be acknowledged appropriately.

 

Its the night after and its crazy to think I just played 36 holes on Bethpage, what a treat!! There was people lining up at 5pm to tee off at 7am tomorrow on the Black Course. They will be waiting all night while we sleep, wake up and go play right along side them on the Red course.

 

When asked about what would need to be done to win tomorrow Joe Carlson said, "I think if we have fewer shots than the other guys we could win." After that incredibly insightful quote I turned to Rob who began to ramble on about winning one of his nine Philadelphia Junior Championships, so finally I turned to Brett who offered something tangible "Some people have swagger, but they don't have the talent. We have the swagger and we have the talent. If we go out there and trust that we are as good as we think then we will win." Classic Brett...

 

We have 18 holes to let people know that Villanova Golf has started a new chapter with Coach Reilly and Wilkes and we are ready to prove ourselves as one of the premier teams in the Big East. Special shoutout to my Mom, and the Kelly and Carlson families who all made it out to beautiful Bethpage to watch us play and provide the thunderous roars I referred to above. 36 holes, 9 hour days are always brutal so it is time for us to get some rest. Tomorrow will be another great day for Villanova golf!

 

Day 1 (September 16th, 2010)

 

St. John's- Bethpage

 

We took two vans up to Long Island, captains Conor Casey, Brendan Kelly and Brian Colbert in one and the rest in the other. I can only speculate what ingenious strategy the captains worked up while in the other van. In our van I spent the time trying to persuade Coach Reilly that our team could vastly improve if we had the cheerleaders come to our events. I know I personally would. I'd be on my best behavior not to curse or get angry, and of course what girl doesn't love good golf so we'd be extra focused... on golf. He didn't seem too convinced, but there are many van rides to work this idea.

 

We drove past New York, through Brooklyn and Coney Island. Driving through Coney Island reminded me of a quote from He Got Game (movie based in Coney Island), that I believe anybody can use to help them when they get frustrated with athletics.

 

"You don't make no mistakes? You be out here shootin', but you don't miss no shots ever? EVER? People make mistakes! People veer off the path! God forgives them!"

 

Once we finally got to Bethpage State Park, it was like reaching a mecca of golf. It was up there with Pinehurst in the sense that you just feel like this world revolves around golf. The putting greens, weather and everything just seemed perfect. Nothing could go wrong, until I stepped up onto the first tee and hit it into the woods never to be seen again. I couldn't even get angry, I was too busy sneaking over to the world famous black course 18th hole to take pictures.

 

The Red course is a phenomenal course in its own right; a classic design that is sure to challenge us over the next two days. If the wind blows like it did today then there will be high numbers across the board. Robbie Galbreath played great in the practice round as did Brett. At one point as a team we made birdies on six straight holes.

 

We went to dinner at a local diner, and I have finally seen the legendary tales of Coach Reilly's eating come true. The waitress approached Rob after dinner and said "When your coach was ordering, I thought he was ordering for everyone then I realized it was just for himself". Coach will probably be mad at me for that one!

 

Things got adventurous as we checked into the hotel and realized they had given one of our rooms away, and as I type this I think Joe is preparing to sleep in the bathtub or perhaps the lobby lounge.

 

We are trying our best to get into the best mindset for tommorow's 36-hole, 9-hour day, so naturally we are going to have a team viewing of the Jersey Shore. We're all very worried to see how things between Vinny and Angela shake out. If things are bad between them it's likely we'll all be on edge tomorrow, so hopefully they can sort our their issues and put our minds at ease so we can focus on golf. Tommorow is a long day, hopefully the weather holds up and we can play the some great golf.

 

Welcome to the Villanova Golf Blog

 

Welcome Villanova Golf Fans to the Villanova Golf Blog! There doesn't seem to be many of you out there though, our total spectator attendence for the season is five. Four of which were family members and I was watched for a few holes by a Navy Commander at our tournament down at Annapolis. He approached me to tell me he was due back on campus and left me with a salute, not knowing what to do I saluted back.

 

As for our actual season, it has been short but already seems to have gone on for months. We had four brutal rounds full of heartbreak, fistpumps by Brett McGaughey, and so much drama things were looking like an episode of Sex and the City. With tryouts complete, qualifying for the first tournament began and the three round shootout left us with our starting five. It was all such a blur, I can't even remember getting into the van or riding in the van for my first tournament as a Villanova student-athlete.

 

Annapolis was such a beautiful town, I had never been and I can't wait to go back next year. The course was playing brutal, especially the second day when Mother Nature stopped behaving. The highlight of the trip would be senior Brendan Kelly and his family genourously having the team over for dinner and teaching us how to eat crab. Also worth noting from this dinner was Brian Murphy attempting to showcase his basketball skills but getting beat by Brendan's little sisters in knockout.(Ok so did I...)

 

High expectations can often lead to disappointment, and I think this was how the team felt after this tournament. We have a great team, but we still need to prove just how good we are. Brian Colbert kept up his consistent play with an 8th place finish and is continuing to play great golf off his U.S. Amateur experience. One tournament done, and by coaches grade it was a success because we competed with heart, respect and within the tradition of Villanova Athletics. From my perspective, I want to win so I'm hoping for better things.


 

 

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