Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications

Office:  321-433-5700, 321-759-4540 (C)

BCC Golf Team Ready for 11th Nationals Appearance in Last 11 Years

May 6, 2013 - With 10 consecutive trips to the NJCAA Division I Golf National Championship Tournament on his resume — and the 11th looming next week — Brevard Community College head coach Jamie Howell is quite familiar with the pressures his team will face.

To that end, his advice has been simple.

"Never give in to a shot or moment," Howell said. "If you let your guard down in golf it tends to mean a lost shot. One lost shot a round per player adds up to 16 lost shots at the end of the national tournament. Good teams and players find ways to save shots."

Golf Team

BCC will be one of 23 teams seeking to save shots over 72 holes from May 14-17 at The Rawls Course in Lubbock, TX, the home of Texas Tech University.

The par 72, 7,207-yard course is big, fast and bouncy and at the mercy of the West Texas winds and weather. Howell compares it to Duran Golf Club in Viera and The Majors in Palm Bay.

"I have spoken with the coach at Texas Tech and asked his opinion about how he would prepare a team for The Rawls Course," Howell said. "We have a plan in place and have been working on it for several months."

Representing BCC at the tournament will be sophomores Blake Biggs — who finished as runner-up by one stroke at the District 4 tournament which BCC won — Keith Greene and Anthony Skirk and freshmen Arthur Leonard and Kyle Benson.

BCC will be competing in the tournament for the 44th time in its 54-year history and has won seven national titles: 1971, 1976-1978, 1985, 1987 and 1991.

Howell expects defending champion Indian Hills Community College of Ottumwa, IA, and the Texas quartet of Odessa College, McLennan CC, West Texas CC and Midland CC to be strong as well as nationally No. 1-ranked Central Alabama.

Central Alabama finished as district runner-up to BCC by 16 strokes. That Central Alabama held sway over BCC for the fall and most of the spring season — BCC finished behind Central Alabama in five of seven tournaments — was a motivator for the Titans.

"The guys recognized we needed to improve if we were going to compete for a national title," Howell said. "Getting beat by Central Alabama was an eye opener and the guys came together recognizing there was nothing we could do about anyone else but take care of our own business and improve every aspect of their games.

"One area I believe we are very strong is the guys are not afraid to compete and embrace the challenge in front of them."

The Titans, who are ranked fourth nationally in the two national NJCAA polls — Nike and "Golf World" — are coming off strong fall and spring seasons in which they finished in the top four in all 11 of their tournaments. BCC won two, recorded four second-place finishes, three thirds and two fourths. In four of the tournaments BCC was the only two-year college competing.

So, the Titans have faced pressure situations all season and nationals should be no different.

"We talked about this the other day and throughout this past year," Howell said. "It should almost be along the lines of we have been preparing for this all year and it is like we have already been to Lubbock and experienced this from a competitive standpoint. Realistic? Maybe not, exactly. But practical and to the point? Absolutely.

"The pressure was on the guys to buy into the training and do the work in advance as opposed to waiting until May and throwing the dice and see what happens."

Confidence also plays into the equation.

"Part of this also is recognizing the capability of the team," Howell said. "Some teams are more talented, some are more tenacious. Our team last year was a top-10 team at a national tournament on a normal week, top five on a good week. We finished eighth. This year's team is a top-5 team on a normal week at nationals and competitive and tenacious enough to compete for a national title.

"The guys know this and they also know they can only control what it is we are doing, not what the other teams are doing. This bunch is not intimidated by the moment or the arena and they know it."

As for how he will approach the tournament as a coach, Howell believes consistency is the key.

"I have to be the same coach I have been all year," he said. "I can't place more emphasis on the week of nationals than I did the first event of the fall term. If the guys know I am comfortable in my own skin that should be reassuring to them and help them to be comfortable and confident in their own skin."

The players cited preparation as the key to their optimistic feelings about the tournament.

"I believe we are very well prepared for nationals in every aspect of our game," Biggs said. "We have been working all year for it and we have really come around as a team.

"We have been practicing hard and preparing for the conditions we expect to have in Texas and we have a lot of confidence coming off of our district championship. I think if we stay patient all week we will be contending for the national championship and we expect nothing less. I have a lot of confidence in my game and my teammates and we expect to win."

Benson also cited the team's confidence.

"We have been working really hard lately and it really showed at our district tournament when we took the title by 16 shots," Benson said.

"I believe winning the district tournament really gave us a great advantage and momentum heading into Texas. If we all play our game and keep our heads focused then I believe that we can achieve anything and win a national championship."

All that being said what would Howell consider a successful trip to Lubbock?

"A top-5 finish by the team will be a successful event and no one would be happy about just a top-5 finish," he said. "I believe three of the guys could attain All-American status with individual play but again if they play well as a team the individual awards will take care of themselves. Any one of the five could have a good week and come home with an individual national title."

Heading into nationals Greene is leading BCC in scoring, averaging 74.08 for nine tournament appearances. Greene had three top-10 finishes: fifth, sixth and 10th.

Biggs played in 10 tournaments averaging 74.14. He had five top-10s: second, fifth twice and 10th twice. Skirk averaged 75.05 in seven tournaments with four top-10s: fourth, fifth and eighth twice.

Leonard averaged 74.44 in nine appearances with four top-10s: first, second, third and 10th. Benson averaged 75.47 in six tournaments with one top-10, a fifth.