For the fifth year in a row, the UNCW men’s golf team has reached the NCAA regionals, asserting their dominance as one of the best squads in the CAA. And for the second year in a row, the Seahawks have swept the conference coach of the year and player of the year awards, after Coach Matt Clark and junior Thomas Bass both captured their respective titles.
“It’s awesome that UNCW has had an opportunity to sweep that the past two years,” said Coach Matt Clark. “Winning the coach of the year is great, but I view that more as the players’ award. Without them, I wouldn’t have the chance to win anything.”
Both awards come on the heels of the Seahawks capturing their second consecutive CAA conference tournament title. After a rocky start to the season, the team is more than pleased to be participating in the NCAA regionals in Athens, Georgia.
“We’re very excited to be participating in the NCAA championship again,” said Clark. “I’ve had the opportunity to win conference championships before, played in the NCAA, and this is the first time I think, probably in my career, that my team is peaking at the right time. We have not had the best year but watching the way they competed with that energy and excitement, it was pretty special to be around and we’re looking forward to going to Athens.”
A major part of the team’s overall improvement this season has been Bass, who led the team with a 73.19 stroke average. Bass was also named to the All-CAA first team, where he was joined by fellow Seahawk, sophomore Payne McLeod.
“Thomas’ ball striking is pretty unbelievable, on a day-to-day basis,” said Clark. “His best club in the bag is a driver. When you can drive a golf ball, you can go a lot of places. Now we just have to keep working on his short game. Anyone that has played golf knows that, ultimately, that is what separates the men from the boys. But his ball striking is what definitely put him on the page and he was rewarded for that with the CAA player of the year.”
Bass finished the regular season with eight top-20 finishes, including placing fourth at the CAA championships. He becomes the fourth Seahawk in the program’s history to win conference player of the year.
But he’s not stopping there.
“It’s huge (to win POY). It’s awesome,” said Bass. “I worked really hard this year and last year to get to this point. Now, I just have to keep progressing to get better and better.”
Now that the Seahawks have conquered their conference title, they begin play in the NCAA regionals in Athens, Georgia. To some, the team may be a long shot to advance to the next round. However, this is something Bass embraces.
“We want to win. I’d love to go down there, be the underdog, and surprise everybody.”