July 14, 2014
The Lamar golf program has once again set a standard for excellence within the Southland Conference, having the ability to boast of something that few other programs in the country can. Lamar has three former standouts who have qualified for the 2014 British Open. Although Chris Stroud, Shawn Stefani and Dawie Van Der Walt didn't all play at the same time during collegiate careers, they all have a connection. Stroud was a teammate with Stefani, while Stefani also played with Van Der Walt.
"It's always exciting when your guys are successful at the next level," said head coach Brian White. "In addition, to have three guys who have had a connection not only at Lamar, but to play together in major championships brings a ton of excitement."
"Every coach wants their players to be successful. I've been fortunate to continue working with these guys even as professionals. Their success on the professional level is proof that what we are doing is working. If guys are interested in playing at the next level we have a program that works. The success our previous golfers are having at the next level is validation of that," added White.
Based on the amount of success the three brought to Lamar, it comes as no surprise that they are seeing similar success as professionals.
"When we recruited them here to Lamar we knew they were unbelievably talented, but you never know on the path to professional golf," said White. "It takes some guys a long time, some hit it right off the bat and some never get there at all. We knew if they continued to improve they could make it."
During their time on campus, the three golfers set the benchmark for excellence in the Southland Conference. The trio combined to win five conference team titles and post two top-10 national rankings.
All three received multiple individual honors throughout their careers. Stefani was a two-time All-SLC selection, while Stroud was a four-time SLC Player of the Year and two-time All-America selection. Van Der Walt was a three-time All-American.
Stroud also won the SLC Individual title in 2001 and 2003, while Van Der Walt won the league's individual crown in 2007. Earlier this year Stroud became the first golfer in Southland history to be named to the Southland Hall of Honor.
"Playing golf at Lamar was quite possibly the greatest years of my young golf career, and playing in the Southland Conference was a huge honor," said Stroud. "I feel my time at Lamar really helped prepare me for the obstacles I face as a professional."
"This is an exciting experience," said Van Der Walt. "To play in a major is what we dream of doing. Having the opportunity to play with former Lamar teammates, guys that I know really well, is a dream come true.
"I came to Lamar from overseas, and I think my teammates would agree with me that the coaching staff did a great job of working with us to improve our games. I still work with Coach White, so it is great for me that the continuity between coach and player still exists. Lamar was my family when I was a student-athlete, and I still consider them my U.S. family. It is a great feeling to know that I have people at Lamar who are still trying to help my get better," said White.
Although the LU trio never got a chance to all three play together during their time in Beaumont that will change Thursday when they tee off at Royal Liverpool. Van Der Walt will be in the second group to tee off Thursday and he will be paired with Cameron Tringale and Masanori Kobayashi. Stefani will be in the 29th group to go off, and he will be paired with Nick Watney and Dong-Kyu Jang. Stroud will be the final of Lamar's three players to tee off. He is paired with George McNeill and Richard Sterne in the 49th group.