Swedish duo for TCU men’s golf saved best for last during standout senior seasons

Posted Wednesday, May. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
NCAA Regionals (at Palouse Ridge Golf Club, Pullman, Wash.) Thursday through Saturday Competing teams in order of regional ranking: California, TCU, USC, St. Mary’s (Calif.), Virginia Tech, BYU, North Texas, Baylor, San Diego State, Ball State, Memphis, Pacific, Princeton, Saint Francis (Pa.) Note: There are six regional sites with 14 teams each. The top five teams from each regional advance to the NCAA national tournament, along with the top individual from each regional not playing for a qualifying team.

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TCU men’s golf coach Bill Montigel hopes his freshman players continue to improve throughout their Horned Frog careers.

For Montigel, who leads TCU into the NCAA regionals Thursday for the 24th consecutive season, that’s been the case more often than not.

But so far, 2013 has seen the best example of Montigel’s philosophy, as two seniors from Sweden — Pontus Gad and Daniel Jennevret — have put together the best seasons of their careers.

TCU begins the three-day tournament Thursday in Pullman, Wash. The top five teams earn berths in the NCAA championships. Among the 13 teams TCU is competing against is No. 1-ranked California, Baylor and North Texas.

After struggling in 2012, Gad returned to Sweden and took last fall off. He enrolled in a three-day Vision54 course in Arizona that helped him refocus on his game.

He returned this spring and his 71.85 stroke average is on pace to rank among TCU’s top 15 since 1997. He was selected to the All-Big 12 team after three top-10 finishes, two more than any of his previous seasons. He has cut nearly 2.5 strokes off his previous best season.

“Obviously, my game wasn’t really where I wanted it to be,” Gad said. “It was a great opportunity for me to take a break. I felt like I came back ready to play.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the attitude. The way I approach golf and the way I coach myself on the golf course and through life now, in general. It’s more that I changed myself instead of my game.”

Gad’s personal maturity has been evident to Montigel, who credits Gad’s improvement to his new approach.

“It took him a long time to get there but he’s just got an incredible attitude and his outlook on life is just so positive,” said Montigel, who is in his 26th season with the team. “I don’t think it was always like that and because his attitude is so good I think it’s bringing out the best in him — not only in golf but in classes and grades, everything.”

For Jennevret, who has known Gad since they played youth tournaments as teenagers in Sweden, the improvement is also vast. He’s on pace to set a career-best stroke average and has four top-five finishes, including TCU’s best score at the Big 12 tournament two weeks ago.

“We all compete against each other,” Jennevret said. “It starts with all the work we’re putting in every day back home. We all want to get better, and by surrounding ourselves with good people it’s going to happen. This is exactly what everybody wants, to have a good senior year. I’m proud of what we’ve done so far.”

Freshman Paul Barjon, who hasn’t played because of an injury since he won the Stanford tournament in March, is back with the team this week. He joins Julien Brun, Eli Cole, Gad and Jennevret on the course. Cole is another senior having his best season at TCU.

“It’s really gratifying,” Montigel said. “I think that’s one of the things our program has always done; hopefully they play their best golf their senior years and they’re not peaking their freshman years.”

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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