Men’s golf: Boone Grove grad Taylor Noel in NCAA championships
BY RYAN HASKELL Post-Tribune correspondent May 6, 2013 9:50PM
Updated: June 8, 2013 6:33AM
University of Tampa men’s golfer Taylor Noel wasn’t sure something like this could ever be in the cards.
Noel, a 2009 Boone Grove graduate and former P-T Golfer of the Year, earned a walk-on scholarship his freshman season for his steady play on the golf course and one of his goals was to reach the NCAA’s one day.
But an injury to his left wrist junior year left him wandering if his high ambitions could ever be met.
“It’s been a long rough road to get to this point,” Noel said. “My freshmen and sophomore years didn’t go to plan (when I didn’t reach the NCAA Tournament) and I injured my wrist junior year.
“I tried to fight a tree root and it won. I played the whole semester through the pain and I was just never able to play the way I wanted to.”
But Noel recovered for his senior year and his golf game improved as the season progressed. A case of the shingles left him on the sidelines for three weeks but he fought through it and hit his peak just in time.
Noel finished 15th overall at the Sunshine State Conference championships and earned his entry into the Division II NCAA Regional round. Noel, who shot a 74-73-73 (220) at the conference championship three weeks ago, shot an 81 on his first day at regionals at the Mission Inn Resort & Country Club in Howie-in-the-Hills, Fla.
Noel is hoping this isn’t the end of his college playing career, though.
“This is definitely a good way to finish off my college career but I’d like to keep playing a little bit more golf,” he said. “I’m hoping to have a good week here and make it to nationals.”
Noel had a nice senior season averaging 75.2 per round. He has finished in the top five on two occasions this season, also placing in the top 10 a total of four times and the top 15 five times.
His best round during this season came at the Brevard Invitational, where he carded a 68 in the second round of the tournament that he won. He also placed second at the Florida Tech Invitational.
The Marketing major is currently tied for 91st on the leaderboard. He knows he’s got his work cut for him if he hopes to reach the NCAA Championships on May 20-24 in Hershey Pa. but he’s up for the challenge.
“I know it’s going to be tough,” he said. “Out of the top 5 teams in the country, three or four are here. And out of the top 10 players in Division II, seven of them are here. The no. 1 rated player in the country (Ben Taylor) is also here.
“I have to have a really good week.”
If not, he’ll graduate at the end of the week and start his internship working with a guy he plays golf with on a regular basis.
That’s sounds like a win-win anyway you look at it.