FLORENCE, S.C. – The Francis Marion University golf team, defending NCAA Division II national champion, is ranked fourth in the 2003-04 Precept Coaches Preseason Top 25 Poll, released this week.
The Patriots ended last season with a 129-43-2 record and captured the national championship by a whopping 14 strokes in Sunriver, Ore. FMU was making its third trip to the NCAA Division II national tournament in six years.
First-year Francis Marion head coach Mark Gaynor welcomes back six lettermen from last year’s squad, including two-time All-American Fredrik Ohlsson and 2003 honorable mention All-American Per Hallberg.
Ohlsson, a first-team All-American last season and a third-team selection in 2002, led the team with a school-record 72.3 stroke average, eclipsing the previous record of 73.4 set by Johnny Gregory in 1972-73. Ohlsson played every round of the 2002-03 season and registered nine top-10 finishes in 12 events. In 19 of his 33 rounds, he shot even or below par, and he placed fifth at the national tournament. The Goteborg, Sweden native has not missed a tournament in each of the past two seasons. A marketing major, Ohlsson also earned academic All-America honors last season.
Hallberg, a native of Ytterby, Sweden, posted a career-best 76.9 stroke average during his junior campaign. His two lowest scores of the spring season (a pair of 73s) came during the NCAA national tournament, where he tied for 44th position.
Also returning are senior Luke Wilcox and sophomores Adam Hart (77.3 stroke average), Luke Hart (75.7), and Battle Hartman (77.0). Three in-state products join the squad as freshmen: Colin Floyd (Loris, SC), Zach Martin (Pickens, SC), and Matt Mead (Greenville, SC).
The University of West Florida, which finished tied for sixth at last season’s national championships, tops the preseason poll. Rollins College and California State University at Bakersfield are ranked second and third, respectively. Rollins finished second behind the Patriots at the national tournament, while CSU Bakersfield was fourth.
In addition to Francis Marion, five other Peach Belt Conference schools are listed in the Top 25.
FMU opens defense of its title by hosting the 19th-annual First Reliance Bank Intercollegiate Tournament, Sept. 22-23, at the Country Club of South Carolina. The 54-hole event will include 12 Division I programs, FMU, and 15th-ranked Georgia College & State University.
Francis Marion University 2003-04 Golf Schedule
Sept. 22-23 19th-annual First Reliance Bank Intercollegiate (host FMU) in Florence, SC
Sept. 29-30 at AFLAC / Cougar Invitational (host Columbus State University) in Columbus, GA
Oct. 20-21 at North Shore/Pfeiffer University Intercollegiate in Sneads Ferry, NC
Oct. 27-28 at Seascape Invitational (host Old Dominion University) in Kitty Hawk, NC
Feb. 20-22 at Dick Wittcoff/USF Invitational (University of South Florida) in Tampa, FL
Mar. 8-9 at Richard Rendleman Invitational (Catawba College) in Salisbury, NC
Mar. 19-21 at Hall of Fame Invitational (Univ. of Texas-Austin) in Houston, TX
Mar. 29-30 at Bobcat Invitational (Georgia College & State Univ.) in Greensboro, GA
Apr. 5-6 at Southeastern Intercollegiate (Valdosta State University) in Valdosta, GA
Apr. 19-20 at 13th-annual Peach Belt Championship (Clayton Coll. & State Univ.) in Jonesboro, GA
May 3-5 at NCAA Super Regional - Southeast (Site TBA)
May 11-16 at 42nd-annual NCAA Division II Championship in Orlando, FL