The Dominion Post  

WVU golfer makes history despite coach’s miscue

Created on:   Thu, Feb 22, 2018   8:31 PM

Last modified:   Thu, Feb 22, 2018   8:31 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — Not even a mistake by head coach Sean Covich could keep WVU freshman golfer Matthew Sharpstene from making history.

“The only bad shot he hit was when I gave him the wrong club on (No.) 18,” Covich said, laughing. “He should have hit with a 7-iron and I talked him into a 6 and he flew the green, but he got it up and down on the green — it was fun to watch.”

The little bit of stress on the 18th hole didn’t faze Sharpstene, who sank a putt to finish the final round of the Martin Downs Collegiate on Feb. 13, in Palm City, Fla., with a school-record low round of 64, 8 under par. He had eight birdies and no bogeys, moving up 14 spots on the final round and finishing runner-up and two shots behind Seton Hall’s Gregor Tait.

Sharpstene broke the record held by teammates Max Sear, who shot a 66 at the VCU Janney Shootout, in September, and his fellow freshman and roommate, Mark Goetz, who shot a 66 during the second round at Martin Downs, on Feb. 12.

The difference in the final round compared to his previous two was Sharpsteen’s play on the greens.

“The putter,” he said. “I made a couple of putts early and I hit the ball really well during that stretch. The putter was really key there.”

With Goetz being his roommate, Sharpstene was well aware what the record was. As the round continued and the birdie putts kept falling, he had to turn off the mental hurdle that the record was in reach, especially with a couple teammates whispering in his ear.

“Mark shot a 66 the day before, so we had a little roommate competition,” Covich said. “When Matt putted out for a 64, I told Mark, ‘Welp, your record didn’t stand too long, even in your own room.’ It’s good to see those two freshmen push each other.”

Sharpstene and Goetz are joined by Logan Perkins as the three freshmen for Covich this season. They are considered to be one of the best classes for the WVU golf program, which returned in 2015 after a 33-year hiatus.

With the program beginning to compete on a more consistent basis, the excitement for what the three newcomers can do has Covich feeling good about the future.

“It’s been good to add to our depth and it’s something that we didn’t have our first few years,” he said. “Now, we feel like everybody 1-9 is really competitive. It makes qualifying really intense, and that ups everybody else’s game. The good thing is, as a coach, you know they’re going to be here another 3 1/2 years, so it’s going to be exciting.”

The Mountaineers will head back to Florida on Saturday for a two-day match, at the Seminole Intercollegiate, against Florida State, in Tallahassee.