Cavalier Corner

June 2017

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18 ◆ CAVALIER CORNER of having to become one of the best players, Stanger instead reverted to the mindset that made him fall in love with the game in the first place. He could just have faith, be a kid and have fun — and the rest would work it- self out. All while his best friend Harris remained by his side in spirit. The result? As the leaves began to transition from or- ange to green, Stanger was poised for a breakout spring. As each match passed, he became better and better, eventually staking his claim as one of the top players in the country. With the ACC individual championship on the line in April, the fourth-year sunk a six-foot birdie putt on the final hole in regulation to advance to a four-player play- off for the individual crown. He birdied the first playoff hole and claimed the title, joining Pete Arend (1955) and Ben Rusch (2012) as the only three Hoos to ever earn the prestigious honor. Stanger led UVA with a 70.37 stroke average heading into the NCAA Cham- pionships, and was ranked No. 12 nation- ally by Golfstat and No. 21 by Golfweek. He finished 17th with a 6-over 222 at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional May 15-17, helping the Wahoos earn their 17th berth to the championship round that was set to take place May 26-31 in Sugar Grove, Ill. When the NCAA Championships wrap up, Stanger — who also was named a semi- finalist for the 2017 Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award in early May, plus earned a spot on the 2017 United States Arnold Palmer Cup team — will continue to pursue a professional career in the PGA. His plan is to join the Tour and become one of the top 25 players on the money list who are granted PGA tour mem- berships for the following season. If Stanger's previous experiences have taught him anything, it's that adversity will inevitably surface and the road won't be an easy one. Fo r o n e o f t h e best players to come through Virginia, the success will be deter- mined by his faith- driven mindset. "The scripture says fix your eyes on God, not on the things of this world," Stanger said. "As much as golf is a passion of mine, and trust me, I'm one of the most competi- tive people you will ever meet, it's so im- portant that I fix my eyes on things outside of golf or else it will become all consuming in my life." ◆ Stanger entered the NCAA Championships ranked No. 12 nationally by Golfstat and No. 21 by Golfweek. PHOTO COURTESY UVA "I started to relax and realized golf didn't have to be any- thing and everything in my life. It didn't have to be my future. It's funny, whenever you die to something that's when it often comes alive. That's what my golf game did. It came alive." STANGER

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