Freshman golfers make their marks with Cougars

Mary Chandler Bryan finished second in the SoCon women’s tournament at Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head, shooting a 2-over par 218 (photo provided).

College of Charleston freshman Josh Lorenzetti stood over the ball on the sixth tee box at The Links at Stono Ferry.

The par-3 hole was playing at 191 yards during the second round of the Charleston Shootout, a college golf tournament hosted by the College of Charleston in early March. There was a slight breeze to Lorenzetti’s back. The rest of Lorenzetti’s group had used 6-irons to reach the green. Lorenzetti reached into his bag and pulled out a 3-iron.

He went through his pre-swing ritual, addressed the ball, and smacked a high, arching shot that sailed over the green.

“Josh looked at me like the world was coming to an end,” Cougars golf coach Mark McEntire said with a chuckle. “At that point, we decided it would be best if we just walked the course with Josh and help him get around the golf course.”

The strategy more than paid off for Lorenzetti, who didn’t have a round above 75 for the rest of the season.

Two weeks ago, at the Southern Conference tournament on the Ralston Creek Course at Daniel Island Club, Lorenzetti fired a 1-under 215 (76-69-70) to take medalist honors, finishing as the only player under par for the tournament and helping the Cougars finish third.

Lorenzetti was paired with Chattanooga’s Steven Fox and Davidson’s Todd Eckstein on the final day, and the trio shared the lead heading to the 17th hole. Lorenzetti birdied the hole to take a one-stroke lead and made par on the 18th to claim the win.

Fox, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, had only the week before played at the Masters. But taking on Fox didn’t seem to faze the Blythewood native one bit.

“I just kept to my game plan and (Fox) kind of had a couple of bad holes on the back nine,” Lorenzetti said. “I felt confident going into the tournament. I knew if I played well, I had a chance to win it all.”

By winning the SoCon title, Lorenzetti, the SoCon’s co-freshman of the year, qualified for the NCAA regionals May 16-18.

Lorenzetti got stronger as his first season progressed. He posted a pair of top-10 finishes in April. He finished sixth at the Gary Koch Invitational, with a 4-under par 212, including a second-round 69, at the Old Memorial Club in Tampa, Fla.

Lorenzetti wasn’t the only Cougar or freshman to have success at the SoCon tournament last month.

Charleston’s Mary Chandler Bryan finished second in the SoCon women’s tournament at the Moss Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head, shooting a 2-over par 218 (76-71-71). Bryan finished with 10 total birdies, seven of which came on the back nine holes through her three rounds. Her 10 birdies tied for the second most in the entire tournament field. It was the best finish by a freshman in the program’s history.

Golf runs in Bryan’s blood. Her brothers — George and Wesley — both played golf at South Carolina and both are currently playing on the mini-professional golf tours.

Mary Chandler had to earn her spot on the team. The Chapin native walked on with the Cougars and didn’t crack the lineup until late in the season.

“A lot of coaches love to talk about how hard their kids work, but Mary Chandler worked as hard as any player I’ve ever seen this season,” said women’s coach Jamie Futrell. “She got better and better with each round she played and I think her best golf is still ahead of her.”

Despite finishing second in the SoCon tournament, Bryan did not qualify for an NCAA regional event.

“My goal is to get there next year,” she said.