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Coach Penley And Golfers Preview NCAA Championship

May 27, 2004

Junior Brent Delahoussaye: “Throughout the season, I was close to playing as good as I could. There was still that little hump I needed to get over. It seemed like I played good in a few tournaments in the fall, but in the spring tournaments I couldn’t get over that hump. I was just trying way too hard. I wanted to win so badly for the team and for myself. I think I showed myself that I can get over that hurdle at East Regionals. I feel pretty good going into the National after that.

“Yale was a pretty tough course. It was real narrow. But that’s the course I like to play a little better. I just kept it in the fairway off the tee, and not do anything stupid. The Homestead (site of the NCAA National) is the same way. It’s tight and not too long. I’ve got good confidence going into this tournament after a good showing at Yale.”

Senior Gregg Jones: “I think the favorite is Florida. They’ve played so well all year long. It’s nice to know we can beat them. They’ve smoked us all year. But this is the time of year you want to get the best of them. All of those tournaments in the fall and spring don’t really matter. This next one is the one that matters most. They know they can be beaten, so I think that’s good for us.

“We’re pretty confident in ourselves. We feel good about our chances this year. We’re pumped and ready to go play. Achieving the triple again (Conference, Regional, and National Championships) would be pretty cool, especially for Matt and myself being seniors. It would be pretty special.”

Junior Jack Ferguson: “I think Florida has a bigger target on their back than we do as defending champs. They should’ve won their conference tournament, but they should’ve. They didn’t win the East Regionals. They’re struggling right now, but they’re #1 in the country, so they’ll be ready. But we’ll be ready too. We’re all playing well right now. I didn’t play great at East Regionals, but everyone else stepped up. That’s what it takes.

“I think there’s a lot of momentum going into this tournament. There is a week between Regionals and Nationals, but we’re all anxious to get up there and play. I wish we could leave today and go play. There are a lot of teams that are good enough for this title. There are probably 15 to 20 teams that are capable. Anybody can have a great week, and that’s all it takes.”

Senior Matt Hendrix: “We may have had our expectations too high going into the fall. After the rest of the year, with Florida and UCLA dominating, a lot of the focus was taken off of us. Right now, we’re trying to earn some respect back. I think we’ve done that by winning conference and regionals. We also showed that we’re capable of beating the best teams in the nation. There’s no doubt about that.

“This is it for me. I’m going to put a lot of effort and focus into these last few days of preparation. All year, we never had four or five guys play well at the same time, much like Florida did all season. When we finally did at Regionals, I think it shows how hard we’ll be to beat when we play together.”

Sophomore Stephen Poole: “Winning the East Regional gave us tons of confidence. We beat the #1 team in Florida. But the rankings don’t really mean anything to us. It’s all about who ends up on top at the end of the day. Us not winning a tournament all season probably had a thing to do with us not being ranked #1. We won the ACC and then the Regionals, so we feel real good coming into the Nationals.

“This is where we should be at this time of the year. We’ve been 23 straight years, so we’ve gotten used to competing for the National Championship. Having the three guys back from last year’s team, Jack, Matt, and Gregg, is important because they tell Brent and I what to expect.”

Head Coach Larry Penley: “Our team went through some stressful times during the regular season. We went through some stretches where we played poorly. The post-season is just a different deal. Intensity levels and concentration levels are higher. Focus is much narrower. I’ve seen the concentration level in the last three or four weeks that I didn’t see earlier this year. I know that’s because post-season is here. Our guys are ready to get on with it.

“I don’t see us as being a dominant team over the last two years. I just see us as playing well when we’ve needed to. That’s what we’re going to try to do again. Our team likes to win. They step their games up when they have to. We have some big-time players who pick great times to play well. We’ve got a team full of them. We’re just going to try to go up to the NCAA National and relax and play well. It’s a fun golf course. It’s not like Karsten Creek, which was as stressful as it gets. Shot after shot last year was just brutal. We were living and dying by every shot. This year, you can go up to Homestead and have a lot of fun. It’s a shot-maker’s golf course and it fits our game well. Above all, it’s a beautiful place.”

Brent Delahoussaye

Gregg Jones

Jack Ferguson

Matt Hendrix

Stephen Poole

Larry Penley