JJ Hendrickson, Contributing Writer
The VCU men’s golf program is preparing for the fast approaching Atlantic 10 Championship.
The Rams closed out their regular season with a matchup against Richmond in the annual Black and Blue Cup. VCU defeated the Spiders by a score of 6-2, its sixth victory since the cup was introduced in 2012, according to Richmond Athletics.
Following its win against Richmond, VCU is looking ahead to the A-10 Championship, which will take place from Friday, April 29 to May 1 at the Reunion Resort and Golf Club in Orlando, Florida. Graduate student Kristian Tannum Donaldson said he’s feeling confident heading into his final conference championship.
“No nerves for me. It’s my last year and fifth year, so just looking forward to the experience and hopefully finishing off on a high,” Tannum Donaldson said.
First year head coach Andy Walker has led the Rams following a three-year stint at Lynn University, where he coached the team to a Division II National Championship in 2019, according to VCU Athletics. Walker said the experience with VCU this year has been positive.
“It’s been good; it’s where I feel like I belong,” Walker said. “It’s been great and it’s nice too, you know, once we all get to learn each other and everyone got healthy to have success here in the spring.”
The Rams were selected to finish second place in the A-10 in a preseason poll, which is conducted among the conference’s head coaches. Tannum Donaldson said the poll encouraged the team, but they tend not to listen to outside noise.
“It served as motivation more than anything else, but we’re not too worried about what other people think about us,” Tannum Donaldson said. “We’re just worried about practicing hard, getting into the best state of mind and turning up when we need to at A-10s.”
VCU opened the season with the VCU Shootout, an event hosted by the Rams. Freshman Charlie Kennedy posted the best individual score out of all participants and led the Rams to a second place finish, according to Golfstat.
Kennedy has since won the A-10 Golfer of the Week award once and the Rookie of the Week award three times, according to the A-10. Kennedy said the awards are nice, but he is more concerned with team success.
“We’re all in it for the team event. I mean, obviously the individual accolades are nice, but being able to accomplish all the team accolades that we could and should accomplish would be really awesome,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the biggest surprise of the season has been how many people on the team can golf at such a high level.
“I would honestly probably just say the depth that we have on our team,” Kennedy said. “I mean, heading into the fall, it was kind of just like the five same people playing in every single event. Going into the spring, there’s been a lot of competing for the fifth spot and fourth spot throughout every single tournament, which is good.”
Throughout the 10 events the Rams participated in, four different golfers have posted a team-best score. Kennedy, Tannum Donaldson, sophomore Mikkel Antonsen and sophomore Joe Retford all led the team in at least one event. The Rams finished in the top three in each of its last four events, according to VCU Athletics.
VCU head coach Andy Walker said the team is ready for the Championship and feels confident in its abilities.
“Going into next week, if we do what we’re supposed to do and have a nice tournament, stick to our gameplan, stay patient, we’re gonna give ourselves a good chance to win in the end,” Walker said.