Mount Olive men's golf team ready for Division II regional
By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on May 6, 2007 2:01 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive head men's golf coach Chip Spiron admits there may have been a "happy to be here" feeling last year when the Trojans made their first-ever postseason appearance.
This year, the attitude is "in it to win it."
Mount Olive opens play Monday in the Atlantic/Southeast Super Regional of the 2007 NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships. The 54-hole regional is hosted by Armstrong Atlantic State University and will be held at Savannah Quarters Country Club in Pooler, Ga.
Sixteen teams -- eight from the Atlantic Region and eight from the Southeast Region -- will compete in the tournament, which concludes Wednesday. Mount Olive is the No. 6 seed among the Atlantic Region teams.
Spiron will go with the same five-player lineup he used at the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Championship two weeks ago -- senior Chris Bitzenhofer, junior Mick Moberg, sophomore Jonathan Greene and freshmen Johan Hagsund and Scott Woodard.
Moberg, a two-time all-CVAC second team selection, as well as an all-region pick last year, is competing in his third NCAA regional. Moberg competed as an individual at the 2005 Super Regional. Bitzenhofer and Greene both represented the Trojans at last year's regional.
"The first-time jitters shouldn't be there for the three returnees," said Spiron, who was named CVAC men's golf coach of the year this season. "They can help the freshman know what to expect."
Not that the two freshman necessarily need a lot of guidance. Woodard captured first place at the Independent Collegiate Invite in early April and was the Trojans' top finisher at the CVAC tournament. Hagsund recorded two top-five finishes in the spring and sank the first hole-in-one in Trojan golf history.
"The freshmen certainly aren't playing like freshmen," said Spiron. "Scott's worked really hard and is playing very well. Johan is also playing with a lot of confidence."
Along with Woodard, Moberg also has an individual title this season. Greene, a graduate of Wayne Christian, captured two individual titles, including a playoff win in the fall over a player from N.C. State.
Bitzenhofer recorded four top-10 finishes during the spring.
"This might be the deepest and most balanced squad I've had," said Spiron. "From one to five, any of them is capable of being our low scorer."
Along with individual accomplishments, the Trojans may have enjoyed their greatest team success this spring. Mount Olive captured four team titles in six regular-season tournaments.
Bitzenhofer, who along with Greene, earned all-CVAC honorable mention this year, says the regular-season success gives the team a different outlook going into this year's regional, as compared to last year.
"Last year's regionals was a great experience," said Bitzenhofer. "Last year, it was an honor to be at regionals. This year, we're going in expecting to advance."
The prize at the end of the three-round regional is a trip to Allendale, Mich., May 22-25 for the national finals. Spiron sums up the key to reaching the national finals in two words.
"The short game is the key," said Spiron. "If we chip and putt well -- especially putting -- we'll do well this week."
Five teams will advance from the Super Regional -- the top Atlantic Region finisher, the top Southeast Region finisher and the next three finishers, regardless of region.
Spiron agrees with Bitzenhofer that the Trojans are going into this year's regional with more confidence than last year.
"With the success the team's had this year, the players feel they deserve to be here," said Spiron. "They feel they can compete and have as good a shot as anyone to win."
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