Cardinal Cadence Spring/Summer 2012

From behind, one hole wins it

Men's golf 2012 championship teamDaffue leads golfers to SLC title

Senior M.J. Daffue successfully defended his Southland Conference individual title April 25 at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club, leading the Lamar men’s golf team to the title at the 2012 Southland Conference Championship.

Lamar needed one playoff hole to capture its 24th team title in men’s golf after starting the final round seven strokes behind Central Arkansas. The Cardinals shot a final round 292 (+4) on the par-72, 7,346-yard Pete Dye Signature Course to catch UCA and force the playoff.

Senior Kevin Hesbois, who helped the Cardinals win their last team title in 2009, knocked down a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to get the Cards out to the lead. None of the five UCA players could manage better than a birdie, and Lamar claimed the crown after Daffue tapped in for the clinching par.

“This is a very difficult golf course, so I thought we would do well since it’s a ball-striking golf course, and that’s what we’re good at,” said Brian White, who has guided the Cardinals to four conference titles as head coach. “I told the guys all we can do is go out and play a great round.

“It was stressful to go into the playoff because we actually had built a four-stroke lead and then gave it back as we had three guys three putt on 17. It’s very satisfying to get this win, though, because I believed we had the best team coming in.”

Daffue had already locked up the individual title, becoming the first player to successfully defend his individual title since McNeese State’s Tim Graham won three straight from 1977-79. The 2011 Southland Conference Player of the Year finished the 54-hole tournament at even-par 216.

After opening with a 72, Daffue carded a 74 in Tuesday’s second round before closing with a 70 to catch and pass UCA’s Antonio Costa for the individual title. Daffue managed four birdies Wednesday, with just one double bogey as he finished the tournament three strokes ahead of Costa.

“This was a tough course so I knew that anything close to par would have a good chance to win,” said Daffue. “I didn’t play my best, but my ball striking was great all week. I had a little bad luck on [hole No.] 9, but the back nine was very stress-free.

“I feel like I played a big role in the team title with me winning. I told the guys we still had a chance to win even though we struggled a little at the end. It’s great to win as a team, especially for us seniors.”

The Cardinals and Bears each finished with 54-hole totals of 890 (+26) to qualify for the playoff. UT Arlington placed third at 903, with Stephen F. Austin (914) and Texas State (917) rounding out the top five.

Freshman Luke Jerling, who picked up his first individual title heading into the conference tournament, tied for fifth place. Jerling closed his first SLC Tournament with a 74 to give him a final score of 223 (+7).

Senior Xavier Feyaerts held the opening-round lead after a bogey-free 69, but struggled to an 82 in round 2. He would rebound for a solid 73 on Wednesday to finish in a tie for seventh with a 224 total (+8). Feyaerts led Lamar with six birdies in his final round, but also had a double bogey and five bogeys.

Hesbois finished tied for 20th in the 50-player field with a 230 total (+14). The hero of the playoff hole opened with a 75, posted a second round 80 and then closed with another 75. After struggling on the greens all week, Hesbois was happy to help the team at the end.

“I was really fired up after that went in,” said Hesbois about his putt in the playoff. “I saw that as an opportunity to help the team because I kind of slumped my way home. I just hit it firm and it went in. This is very special to win this as a senior after not winning it the last two years. I wanted this very badly.”

Lamar’s final golfer was redshirt junior Erik Knudsen who finished in a tie for 29th. Knudsen posted rounds of 80-79-76 for a 235 total (+19).

The win gave the Cardinals the Southland Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals, where they secured a trip to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2007.

by Erik Cox

May 2012

Johnsen takes great strides

The 2011-12 cross-country academic year was without doubt a fulfilling and busy one for Matt Johnsen.

A native of Broulee, Australia, Johnsen was named the Southland Conference Runner of the Year for men’s indoor track, as well as being named Student-Athlete of the Year by the conference for both cross country and indoor track. On top of that, he traveled to Poland in April to represent Australia in the World University Cross-Country Championships, placing a respectable 43rd.

“I’m over the moon about having the opportunity to compete for my country,” Johnsen said. “It’s truly an honor.”

It is an honor and an opportunity well deserved said Lamar track and cross-country coach Trey Clark. “When Matt asked me if he should apply for consideration, I told him he definitely should,” Clark said. Johnsen is the latest of a number of Lamar track and cross-country student-athletes to represent their country.

“When international students come to Lamar to compete, their goal is to represent their country,” Clark said. “They know we’re going to do everything we can to help them achieve that goal.”

Johnsen believes the training he’s received while at Lamar has been a key factor in his improvement. “Back home, I was often on my own,” he said. “I was ranked in the Top 5 back in Australia. Here, the competition is much tougher. I’m just another number. The environment is much more intense.”

Johnsen has succeeded athletically at Lamar. This fall, he was second at the Southland Conference Cross-Country Championships, leading the Cardinals to their sixth consecutive team title. During the indoor track season, he won the conference title in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14 minutes, 40.74 seconds, nearly 10 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. He was second in the 3,000 meters in 8:26.36.

On top of that, Johnsen boasts a 3.31 grade-point average in kinesiology.

“It’s one thing to be good in sports, but it’s important to be good in academics as well,” Johnsen said. “One of the reasons I chose Lamar was because of the academics the school offered.” As a coach, Clark loves having Johnsen as a member of the Cardinals.

“Matt Johnsen represents everything that is right about college athletics,” Clark said. “He’s a tremendous athlete, a tremendous student and a tremendous person. He is the type of student-athlete you’re proud to coach.”

by Pat Murray

May 2012