Men's golf appeared in last May's NCAA West regional championship field for the first time in its 34-year history. The Gael duffers advanced to the third round of the western regionals, finishing in a three-way tie for 14th place, after entering the tournament as a No. 15 seed. Twenty-seven teams competed in the regional at Stanford University.
The team's performance was the best in the program's history. Saint Mary's placed fifth or higher in 8 of 11 matches in which they participated, and won two tournaments. They also posted a 16-under-par team score in the inaugural Lexus Naples Intercollegiate Invitational in Naples, Florida, setting a Saint Mary's scoring record.
Coach Scott Hardy attributes the team's accomplishments to his players' talent, and more.
"We were very talented athletically and golf-wise," Hardy says, "but I don't think they succeeded just based on their talent. It was a lot of commitment and a mental approach of believing in themselves."
Pacing the Gaels were seniors Joe Lanza and Liam Kendregan, along with sophomore Chadd Cocco. For the second year in a row, all three were All-West Coast Conference (WCC) honorees. Lanza and Kendregan also registered the two best individual single-season scoring averages in SMC golf history. During the NCAA championships, Kendregan finished 18th, and Lanza tied for 26th. Lanza was named to the WCC's all-academic team.
Hardy is hopeful about the program's future.
"This year I had two seniors who were very strong players," Hardy explains, "but at the same time I played two freshmen and a sophomore in every tournament. So that's three real young guys who got a lot of experience. And I have two recruits coming from New Zealand who are going to be really special players."
Hardy, a 1998 Saint Mary's graduate, was named WCC co-Coach of the Year. It was his third such honor in five seasons.
"The other coaches vote on that, and they're my competition. If they think I'm doing a good job, that makes me feel really good," says Hardy.