Nov. 18, 1997
Success. A word synonymous with Florida State golf. With five NCAA
Tournament appearances in the 1990’s and a 7th place finish following the
1994-95 season, the Seminoles have asserted themselves as one of the most
successful golf schools in the nation. Coupled with NCAA success is ten
tournament championships and 35 top five finishes under Coach Ernie
These accomplishments during the first 50 years have established
Florida State as a national power in men’s golf circles. This year’s
Seminole golf team hopes to continue the trend into the next 50 years at
Coming into this year after not making the NCAA Championships last
season, the Seminoles look to regain the winning edge that has taken them
to the top. With the loss of only one player that participated in
tournament play last year and the emergence of a group of underclassmen,
this team could be as deep as any under Coach Ernie Lanford. Twelve
players return from last year’s squad giving the Seminoles the depth that
it takes to be successful in tournament action. The right blend of
experience and youthful exuberance will lead this team into the season and
with success, a return trip to the NCAA Championships.
“I realistically think that we are seven deep with experience,” said
head coach Ernie Lanford. “The top four guys have played in big
tournaments and have experienced success.”
The Seminoles return four of the top five golfers from last year’s
squad. Steve Bradley, a redshirt sophomore last season transferred to the
University of Florida. Bradley, a native of Ocala, FL, led the Seminoles
in three tournaments and finished the season with a stroke average of 73.7.
The only other departure for the Seminoles was Tice Vieira, who didn’t
participate in a tournament last year.
As the Seminoles enter the fall season, the top player will be senior
Jason Pool. Pool, a native of Great Falls, VA, is coming off a summer that
saw him set the course record of 62 at the Seminole Golf Course. Serving
as this year’s captain, Pool finished last season with a stroke average of
74.5 and led the Tribe in four of 11 tournaments. Pool is one of three
golfers that is entering his four year of competition with the Seminoles,
providing leadership and experience needed in the line-up.
“Jason had an exceptional summer,” said Lanford. “He gained alot of
confidence with the course record that he set and the way he played in the
spring. He is our captian this year and will look to him for experience
Arguably the most experienced player for the Seminoles this year,
George McNeill enters the season as the number two player for the Tribe.
McNeill, a three-year veteran for the Seminoles, is the only member of the
team to participate in the NCAA Championships twice. A native of N. Fort
Myers, McNeill played in only eight tournaments last year. Forced to sit
out the fall due to academic complications, McNeill ended the year with
five top 20 finishes, including a tied for 8th performance at the ACC
Championships. His stroke average of 73.4 led the team last year.
“If McNeill plays the way that he can, he can be an All-American this
year,” stated Lanford. “He missed last fall and didn’t practice much, but
he played well in the spring and will be looked upon for great things this
The battle for the three and four positions is between senior Barry
Dyche and Nathan Bertsch. Dyche, a three-year letter winner, enters his
last season with the Seminoles. Dyche played in all 11 tournaments for the
Seminoles last season, finishing the year with a stroke average of 74.7.
Leading the Tribe with a tied for 5th performance at the Killearn Seminole
Classic, Dyche recorded three top 20 finishes.
Bertsch was one of three true freshman to see action last year. A
native of Gulf Breeze, FL, Bertsch was the only freshman to play in more
than three tournaments, finishing the year with eight appearances. Playing
the full spring season and one tournament in the fall, he posted five top
20 finishes. Bertsch’s best performance came in the Mercedes Benz
Collegiate Championship, finishing tied for 7th with a three-round total of
222, leading the Seminoles to a team championship.
“Nathan was our best player in the spring last season,” commented
Lanford. “He didn’t play well in the fall last year and we didn’t expect
him to come in and play right away. But down the line, Nathan played well
The fifth and final position is up in the air as the fall season gets
underway. The early leader to replace Bradley is freshman Kris Hannah.
Hannah, a native of Tallahassee, FL, has impressed Lanford with his work
ethic and play in early practices.
Several other candidates are vying for playing time. Craig Cochran, a
junior from Rosemont, PA, has played well in early practices. Cochran, a
third-year player and cousin of former FSU All-American Bobby Cochran, has
played in two tournaments for the Seminoles over the course of his career.
Both tournaments came in the 95-96 season, including a 56th place finish at
the Country Club of Louisiana Intercollegiate.
“Several players will be vying for the final spot,” said Lanford.
“Mark Monroe and Kris Hannah have been impressive. Craig Cochran had an
excellent summer, but has struggled a little bit in the fall. They will
all compete for playing time as the year progresses.”
Ryan Felty and Kevin Zuelch return for their second season at Florida
State. Felty saw action last year, while Zuelch worked on his game last
season in hopes of cracking the line-up. Felty, a native of Selinsgrove,
PA, participated in three tournaments last year with his best finish coming
in the University of Tennessee Tournament of Championships.
Several other players are expected to challenge the top 5 players for
action. Senior James Baker and juniors Jeremy Cranford and Mark Stillwell
have shown signs of life in the fall and should put pressure on the top 5
for playing time.
The schedule is no different for the Seminoles. The Seminoles will
once again play a tough schedule featuring the ACC Championships and the
Seminole Classic. The fall schedule will look much the same as it did last
year. The Seminoles once again travel to the Keswick Club Classic,
Tennessee Tournament of Champions and the Country Club of Louisiana
Intercollegiate. The Seminoles will add the Kroger Intercollegiate, hosted
by the University of Memphis, to their fall schedule.
The spring schedule will be highlighted by the Seminole Classic on
March 9-10, 1998. This year’s Classic will take place at the Golden Eagle
Country Club, host to past Nike Tour events. Golden Eagle will take the
place of the Killearn Country Club, that hosted the event for the last
five years. The ACC Championships will also feature several of the top
teams in the country. All nine ACC schools will be represented at the
annual event at the Old North State Club in Uwharrie Point, NC.
The Seminoles hope to return to the NCAA East Regional tournament after
a one-year hiatus. This year’s Regional will be hosted by the University
of South Carolina and will take place in Dufaskie, SC. The NCAA
Championships will take place at the University of New Mexico Golf Course
on May 27-30,1998. The top 30 teams from the three Regional sites will
qualify for the Championships in Albuquerque, NM.
With the experience and talent that this team possesses, Florida State
will hope to once again grace the NCAA Tournament field. Reasserting
themselves with hard work and dedication in the off season, this Seminole
team could be one of the best in the 50 years of Florida State golf.