Garren, Deneen lead CCU with Sun Belt golf awards

A pair of first year Chanticleers were received two of the league’s top individual men’s golf honors as Coastal Carolina’s Jim Garren was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year and first-year player Morgan Deneen was named Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year. In addition, Deneen was voted first team All-Sun Belt, Luis Ruiz was named second team All-Sun Belt and Thadd Obecny II was tabbed third team All-Sun Belt.

“Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the season, I’m extremely pleased with the progress we made as a program in just nine months,” Garren said. “It was hard ending the season the way we did at regionals as you never want to end before nationals. However, we cannot underestimate just what all this group did.

“Outside of back-to-back events in March, we had a really solid year,” Garren added. “We set our goal to win conference in our first team meeting and we did that. It was truly special to be Sun Belt champions and advance to the NCAA postseason. In addition to team success, every guy had his best single-season scoring average of his career this season.

“Now, we’ve got just over three months before we are back in action. We have a lot of work to do to get better. Overall, this was a special year and we have got the program headed in the right direction.”

Garren, who took over the Chanticleer men’s golf program last August, led Coastal to a convincing stroke-play victory at the conference championship prior to the Chants defeating South Alabama and Georgia Southern in the match-play portion. With the win, Coastal advanced to the program’s 12th NCAA postseason appearance. Garren inherited a team with just four golfers and one signee that forced Coastal to have a tryout with student already at CCU to add two players to the roster in September. (One of those two players was Deneen.)

In addition to leading CCU to the Sun Belt Championship, Garren helped Coastal have one of its best seasons. The team’s scoring average of 289.81 ranks as the third-best in school history, the 15 rounds of par or better by the team was one shy of the school record, the team’s 523 birdies recorded is the fourth-most on CCU’s single-season list, the team’s par 3 scoring average for the year of 3.12 was a school record and the team’s par 4 scoring average of 4.1834 for the year ranks third-best in school history.

“I’m honored to be named Coach of the Year,” Garren said. “This is truly a program award. Even though my name is on it, assistant coach Jeremy Alcorn and every single player are every bit as responsible for that as myself. Thank you to the Sun Belt coaches for their recognition.”

Deneen was one of the top stories in college golf this past spring leading to him being named first team All-Sun Belt and Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year. Deneen was a three-year student who was in the University’s PGA Golf Management program before joining the team as a walk-on this last September. He not only won the Sun Belt individual championship, shooting a conference tournament-record 63 in the second round and a conference tournament-record 203 for 54 holes, but he finished the season with a 73.00 scoring average, recording five top 20 finishes, posting six rounds in the 60’s and having 14 rounds of par or better. In addition, Deneen’s 63 tied Zack Byrd for the lowest round in school history and he shot 66 twice. Overall, Deneen had a team-best 117 birdies, the ninth-best, single season total in school history. Listed as a senior this season, Deneen still has another year of eligibility remaining and will return to the squad for a final season in 2018-19.

Ruiz earned second team All-Sun Belt for the second consecutive year. He placed 17th at the Sun Belt Championship and led the team with a 14th-place finish at the NCAA Kissimmee Regional, shooting a 4-under par 212.The junior led the team (or tied for the team lead) in every statistical category, including scoring average (72.69), top 20 finishes (5), rounds in the 60’s (9) and rounds of par of better (15). In fact, his season scoring average ranks 11th-best in school history and his 15 rounds of par of better ranks 10th. Ruiz had 112 birdies in 2017-18, the 11th-best, single-season total in school history.

Obecny was voted third team All-Sun Belt after being one of the stars at the conference tournament. Not only did he place ninth during the stroke-play portion, but he easily won both of his match-play duels – 2up and 6 & 4 – as CCU’s first player off the tee box to set the stage for the semifinal and final wins. Obecny’s CCU career scoring average of 73.90 ranks 10th on the school’s all-time list while his season scoring average of 73.22 ranks 22nd-best. Obecny, like Deneen and Ruiz, had five top 20 finishes – including a second-place finish in this year’s season opener – while recording six rounds in the 60’s and 14 rounds of par of better.

2018 SUN BELT CONFERENCE POSTSEASON HONORS

Men’s Golf All-Sun Belt First Team
Tanner Napier, Arkansas State
Morgan Deneen, Coastal Carolina
Steven Fisk, Georgia Southern
Jake Storey, Georgia Southern
Alex Herrmann, Georgia State
Yannick Schütz, South Alabama

Men’s Golf All-Sun Belt Second Team
Tripp Summerlin, Appalachian State
Luis Ruiz, Coastal Carolina
Archer Price, Georgia Southern
Nick Budd, Georgia State
Max Catherine, ULM
Aaron Guanlao, UTA

Men’s Golf All-Sun Belt Third Team
Zan Luka Stirn, Arkansas State
Joel Wendin, Arkansas State
Thadd Obecny II, Coastal Carolina
Severin Soller, Georgia State
Guillaume Fanonnel, ULM
Joao Girao, ULM

Men’s Golfer of the Year
Steven Fisk, Georgia Southern

Men’s Golf Newcomer of the Year
Morgan Deneen, Coastal Carolina

Men’s Golf Freshman of the Year
Max Catherine, ULM

Men’s Golf Coach of the Year
Jim Garren, Coastal Carolina

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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