NORMAN, Okla. After a three month layoff, the first spring golf tournament on the Sooners schedule is fast approaching.
The team leaves Friday for Hawaii and the TaylorMade Waikoloa Intercollegiate, played Wednesday, Feb. 9, through Friday, Feb. 11. Defending medalist and 2004 All-American Anthony Kim and fellow All-American Carlos Del Moral will lead the Sooners, who have a few new faces.
OU head coach Jim Ragan signed arguably the best recruiting class in the nation, adding junior college transfers Justin Fraley and Shawn LaFontaine and freshman Jordi Garca.
Fraley and LaFontaine come from Odessa (Texas) College after leading their team to an undefeated season and the 2004 NJCAA National Championship. The pair shared honors as Odessa’s co-freshmen and co-sophomore of the year, and for good reason. During their two-year stint as Wranglers, Odessa won 27 of their 30 tournaments and finished runner-up at the national championships before winning it last season.
LaFontaine, an NJCAA All-American, was runner-up at the national championships, losing a one-hole playoff. The Cobourg, Ontario, native remarkably finished in the top 26 of his 30 tournaments entered. LaFontaine won nine times, including three consecutive a streak snapped when he finished runner-up by three strokes at the 2003 Odessa Invitational. He was also a two-time all-region, all-conference and all-state honoree. LaFontaine finished runner-up to Fraley at the 2004 Texas State Junior College Championship, but won the regional title. LaFontaine established the tournament and school record with a single round (18 holes) score of 63 at the High Country Shootout in Ruidoso, N.M., and a three-round (36 holes) score of 128 at the Andrews College/Am in Andrews, Texas.
As an amateur, LaFontaine was an AGJA All-American in 2001 and ranked by GolfWeek Magazine as the No. 23 junior amateur, No. 15 North American amateur and No. 1 Canadian Junior. He played as a member of the Willindon Cup-winning Team Ontario at the 2003 Canadian Amateur Championship, was runner-up at the 2003 Ontario Men’s Amateur Championship and used a birdie-birdie finish to seal victory at the 2001 AGJA Eastern Canadian Junior Championship.
Fraley finished his career at Odessa with several accolades. The Rowlett, Texas, native was the regional and state champion and finished runner-up at the regional tournament, where he established the tournament record, and matched the school record, for a single round (18 holes) score of 63. He won five individual titles and placed in the top 10 in 16 of his 24 tournaments entered. Fraley’s career junior college stroke average was 71.6.
At South Garland High School, Fraley was a four-time all-district and two-time all-city honoree. The 2002 Byron Nelson Junior Classic and Collegiate Players Tour Alabama champion also took top honors at the 1999 Texas-Oklahoma Tournament, the 2000 Texas State Junior Boys Championship and the 2000 Texas State Amateur Qualifier.
Garca, who is a relative of Del Moral, hails from Castillo, Spain. The 6-1, 175-pound freshman attended Ortega y Gasset the same school that produced Del Moral and GolfWeek’s current-No. 1 men’s collegiate golfer Pablo Martin. Garca ended 2004 ranked the No. 2 Spanish Junior and No. 4 Spanish amateur. A veteran of two European Teams Championships, finishing eighth and third, respectively, Garca placed 10th in the Carris Trophy for English International boys under 18. He also played in several international tournaments with Team Spain, winning the Finland International.
The additions provide an generous lineup for Ragan to choose from for the remaining tournaments. The Sooners, who have finished fourth, 11th and fifth in their three fall tournaments, are poised to leap from their No. 24 GCAA/Precept Coaches Poll ranking and make a run at the Big 12 Championship title and fifth appearance in the NCAA Championships in the last six years.
The trio was not the only additions to the golf program since the beginning of the 2004-2005 academic year. Oklahoma also added a new assistant coach, Donnie Darr, who joined the team in mid-September.
Darr, 32, comes to the University of Oklahoma from Kent State where he served on the coaching staff for the past three seasons, including the last two as associate head coach.
Darr helped coach the Kent State women’s team to a fifth consecutive Mid-American Conference championship in 2003 and recruited the 2003 MAC Men’s Freshman of the Year Ryan Yip.
The Kent State alum was a third-team All-American in 1995. He was a four-time All-Mid-American Conference first team selection and was the MAC Sportsman of the Year in 1996.
Darr also received the Merle Wagoner Award in 1996, which is given to the outstanding senior male athlete at Kent State. He was elected to represent the United States in the USA/Japan Matches in 1996 and he holds the Kent State record for lowest single-round score with a 65, which he set in the third round of the 1994 NCAA Championships at Stonebridge Country Club in McKinney, Texas. Darr collected three career individual titles and 17 top-10 finishes. He ranks No. 5 on the Golden Flashes’ career stroke average with a 74.74
The Coshocton, Ohio, native graduated from Kent State in 1996. Darr and his wife Tina, also a Kent State graduate, our proud parents of triplets Allie, Anna and Leo.
The 2005 Oklahoma Sooner men’s golf team is completed by Ragan, Darr, senior Craig Lurie, junior Brodie Flanders, sophomores Del Moral, Kim and Nick Sheedy, freshman Phillip Bryan and newcomers LaFontaine, Fraley and Garca.
Those wishing to receive Oklahoma Sooner men's golf releases for the 2005 season may contact men's golf media relations director Jared Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.