Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dale Leads Next Generation of Talented and Experienced A-Sun Golfers

UNF junior Sean Dale tees off as Matt Nagy (behind left) and Rhys Enoch look on.

UNF junior Sean Dale fired a 68 in the first round of his first ever A-Sun Championship. To many, that probably did not come as much of a surprise. After all, the success of the Jacksonville, Fla., native is certainly well documented.
In his carer Dale has recorded 17 top-10 finishes, including three individual titles. He was the 2010 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year and an All-Atlantic Sun first team selection. Also in 2010 he earned second team Ping All-American honors and was the Florida State Amateur champion. Prior to transferring to UNF from Ole Miss, Dale was also a member of the 2009 SEC All-Freshmen team.

On Tuesday he followed up with a 69, posting the only below-par two-day total on the leaderboard and showing no signs of being bothered by his circumstances. Perhaps that is because in that second round of the 2012 A-Sun Championship he played in the final grouping, a position with which he is also very familiar.

That particular grouping also included ETSU’s Rhys Enoch and Kennesaw State’s Matt Nagy, which made this particular threesome among the most highly decorated amateur players in A-Sun history. Enoch has participated in the Palmer Cup (2010-11) and the British Amateur qualifiers (2010-11). Nagy was a 2009 U.S. Open participant, and Dale played twice in the U.S. Amateur (2010, 2011).

True, the grouping possesses tremendous talent, the likes of which Dale will be seeing more of as his career continues to unfold. However, it is not the first time that the A-Sun has seen such ability from its members. In fact, the A-Sun has served as a launching pad for established veterans like Hal Sutton and Colin Montgomerie, as well as up-and-coming professionals such as Rhys Davies (European Tour) and Russell Knox (PGA Tour).
Playing alongside that type of talent is one reason Dale chose to finish his career at UNF. On his own team he is pushed by others who bring the same type of experience and talent that benefits the Ospreys and the A-Sun. Aylwin, who shot a second-round 67 on Tuesday, has also participated in the U.S. Amateur (2010). Joey Petronio also participated in the U.S. Amateur in 2011, and Kevin Phelan, currently ranked 42nd by Golfstat.com, played in the U.S. Open in 210 and the World Amateur in 2011.

Enoch agrees that as a player in the A-Sun, the benefit of having played in those types of settings and facing opponents with that level of experience is certainly easy to recognize and to build upon.

“It helps to have played in those events not only because you are representing your country, but also because you are going against the top amateurs in the world,” says Enoch. “That experience builds your confidence and kind of settles your nerves. When you play here, with a field like this where we have with several all-americans and top golfers, it really pays off.”

Dale also appreciates the level of talent he rubs elbows with throughout the A-Sun season, and particularly now in this championship setting.

“It’s always good to have quality players alongside you, and Matt and Rhys are both great to play with,” says Dale. “Playing in a group with good players brings out your better game because you stay more focused and hit better shots as a result.”

So as Dale once again finds himself in the final group at the A-Sun Championship, there are several others whose careers are also in varying stages of launch mode. And while there were forerunners like Sutton, Montgomerie, Davies and Knox who helped lay the groundwork to put the conference on the map in regards to men's golf, it is a safe bet that several of these young guns can keep it there.

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