As teams began their pre-tournament routines on the putting green and the driving range Monday morning, UNF Head Coach Scott Schroeder and his assistant coach Jacob Davidson were in the clubhouse focused on the Golf Channel.
The pair wasn’t catching up on highlights, they were intently watching as two of their best players – and seniors – were being selected to the rosters of the American and European Palmer Cup teams.
Sean Dale and Kevin Phelan have meant a great deal to Schroeder and the North Florida men’s golf program. The accolades for the two are numerous. Dale is currently the No. 2 player in the country as ranked by Golfstat, and Phalen himself has been in the Top-20 and is currently still in the Top 100.
Dale did not play in any events for the Ospreys in the fall while attempting to qualify for PGA Tour at Qualifying School, but he did capture the medalist honor at the prestigious amateur event, the Jones Cup.
Upon his return in the spring, Dale finished in the Top-5 of four of his five tournaments and did no worse than 15th. He is tied for eighth and six strokes out of the lead heading into the final round of the A-Sun Championship.
Among his many honors include membership to the All-Freshman team while at Ole Miss before transferring to North Florida. He is a two-time Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, a repeat first-team all-conference performer and a regular recipient of PING All-American honors (second and third team).
Last season Dale helped guide UNF to Atlantic Sun title and appearances in an NCAA Regional and NCAA Championship and was shown respect by his peers by being named UNF’s Male Co-Athlete of the Year.
As a junior and an amateur Dale highlights included qualifiying for 2011 U.S. Amateur and captured the 2010 Florida State Amateur title during the summer while also qualifying for the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship.
The other member of the Ospreys’ version of the “Odd Couple,” Kevin Phelan has received his share of honors as well. He was the 2010 A-Sun Freshman of the Year, is a three-time All-Conference selection and is a regular recipient of A-Sun All-Academic honors.
Phelan has qualified for the Irish Open and represented Ireland in the 2010 World Amateur Team Championships held in October in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was the team’s top finisher at the NCAA Championships in 2012 with a 21st-place finish and he has been honored as an All-Ping selection.
As an amateur Phelan qualified for 2011 Irish Open and represented Ireland at World Amateur Team Championships. He enjoyed a highly successful 2010 summer campaign that included qualifying for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, reaching the semifinals of the U.S. Public Links and participating in the prestigious U.S. Amateur Championship.
Beginning tomorrow’s final round of the A-Sun Championship, Phelan and Dale are within striking distance of the program’s first individual title. Phelan begins in second, just three strokes out at +2, and Dale is +5. They join two other teammates in the championship’s Top-10 and look to protect their 2012 title after letting a sizable lead slip away on Monday.
So what does Schroeder have to say about his two valuable seniors? A brief Q&A with the coach lets you in on the players and his expectation of them.
Talk about Sean and Kevin and how they have developed and helped your program.
Both graduated high school living less than 20 minutes from our campus. One is more outgoing (Dale), while the other one is quieter (Phelan). As golfers they have really developed into really good players. Sean is a little more dynamic, Kevin is a plodder, so you have two kids that even play the game differently and show that there is more than one way to be successful.
Both have wonderful short games, Kevin plays percentages and Sean has gotten better because he has done more of that. As a freshman and sophomore Sean played more aggressively, and now he takes fewer chances and plays smarter golf.
What do you know that you will get from them day in and day out?
The one thing that I know that I will get from them is that they are going to try to win. Winners compete very hard and I know that when they tee off, 18 holes later they have given it all they have. At the end of the day that is all that you can ask for as a coach.
How do they impact this team off the course?
They don’t make excuses for anything. They hold themselves accountable and when you are off the golf course with them they are never talking about negative things. It is always positive conversation, so they provide a good environment for the younger guys to grow in. That is a very important aspect, to remain positive, because there are a lot more negative things that can happen to you on the golf course than positive.
They have garnered numerous accolades and certainly receive more attention than their other teammates. How do they handle that?
They are very gracious, you don’t really ever hear them talk about themselves, which makes them very fun to coach. It is a really neat deal that both of them know how to handle success the right way.
What will you miss most about them?
Certainly their golf, but I will also miss their competitive spirit.