Stewart is the first coach in program history to win the award from the conference. He has been at the helm since August, 2001.
UNCG freshman Nick Lyerly won the SoCon Individual Championship, with the only sub-par score in the field. He also won the Freshman of the Year Award; a Spartan has won the freshman award five of the past six years.
A league-best three Spartan golfers – Bryce Hendrix, Nick Lyerly and Josh Stockwell – were named to the all-conference team. The three all-conference selections matches last year as the most in program history.
“There was a maturity level that was a little bit higher this year. It was very evident,” Stewart said. He has seen his players mature as students in the classroom, as golfers in practice, in the matches. He noted senior Josh Stockwell, who grew up in Pinehurst and returned to Pinehurst for his final SoCon Tournament. He was so focused.
“It was a storybook end to his regular season,” Stewart said – as the team now heads to the NCAA regionals.
And it’s the result of a continual building process many years in the making.
“Our guys have practiced hard,” he explained. They’ve put a lot of effort into their academics. They’ve made good choices off the golf course, he continued. It all allows them to compete at high levels.
“It’s a sign of doing the right things.”
Stewart noted that their winning the title is a university effort – from the players, the professors and staff, the chancellor and administration, alumni, donors. “It takes the entire university.”
The Spartans had posted three straight second-place finishes at the SoCon Championships before taking the title this season. They’ve had 9 top-3 finishes during Stewart’s coaching tenure.
In winning the team title, UNCG clinched the automatic bid for the NCAA Regionals May 14-16, in what will be the program’s second NCAA appearance after earning an at-large bid in 2013-14.
Where will the Spartans play? The selection show for the regionals is today (May 2) at 5:30 p.m. on the Golf Channel. A “watch party” for the NCAA Selection Show will be held 5-6 p.m. (Wednesday) at the Starmount Country Club (Main Clubhouse). The team and coaches will be there; the campus community is invited.