Golf's impressive turnaround
Sept. 24, 2012
They were watching Vanderbilt's Charlie Ewing finish his round and officially cap off one of the biggest weekends in program history. The Commodores had already clinched the team championship in the Mason Rudolph Invitational, beating 14 other teams in an event that last year saw them place a lack-luster ninth.
Smiles, hugs and handshakes were plentiful and even a few tears of joy were spotted as Vanderbilt's golf community celebrated this impressive turn-around, one that came at a stunning rate of speed.
Walking down the 18th fairway with Ewing was first-year head coach Scott Limbaugh, who was hired in mid-summer to awaken what many golf experts believe to be the sleeping giant that is Vanderbilt golf.
It appears the former Alabama assistant has done that faster than nearly everyone thought possible.
The Commodores won by nine shots over second-place Oklahoma, a Top 20 program, behind the brilliant play of sophomore Hunter Stewart, who blistered the challenging circuit with weekend rounds of 65-67, 10-under par, and an equally impressive three-under Sunday effort by Zach Jaworski, the unflappable freshman from Alpharetta, Ga.
Indeed it was a team effort with two other sophomores, Ben Fogler and Jordan Janico, combining with junior Ewing to jump into early contention Friday, take a one-shot lead into Sunday and then win going away.
Limbaugh, who helped forge Alabama's dominate collegiate run in his five-years there, has made quick believers of both his team and Vanderbilt's golf community through a combination of hard work, golf focus and balance. Commodores say to the man he makes golf fun.
The hard work is evident. Just hours after accepting the Mason Rudolph trophy, assistant coach Dusty Smith was on an airplane to recruit and before dawn broke Monday morning, Limbaugh was joining his team for a demanding workout in Vanderbilt's strength and conditioning center. There will be no time to rest of early laurels.
The work feels worthwhile. While Smith was hustling to Nashville's airport, the rest of the team gathered around a television set at the Legends to watch former Commodore All-American Brandt Snedeker win the FedEx Cup, the perfect ending to a near-perfect weekend.
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