Following a Big South championship season last spring and another successful fall campaign, Liberty Men's Golf Coach Jeff Thomas has signed two future student-athletes to national letters of intent for the 2012-13 academic year. Thomas, the 2010 and 2011 Big South Coach of the Year, has inked Harrison Winger and Michael Hocker for the upcoming season. Thomas' squad just recently finished its fall season ranked No. 36 in the final Golfstat ranking and was listed at No. 30 by Golfweek. "I am excited to have Harrison and Michael attending Liberty next year," commented Thomas. "They believe fully in the mission of Liberty and what we are trying to accomplish with the program." "They will help us to continue to compete at a national level and win Big South Championships," continued Thomas. "God has blessed this team with great players and the addition of Michael and Harrison is no exception."
Harrison Winger (Orlando, Fla.)
Harrison Winger comes to Liberty from Bishop Moore Catholic School and his hometown course of Dubsdread Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. Winger is currently ranked No. 31 in the country in the latest Junior Golf Scoreboard listing for the Class of 2012. Winger has two notable victories to his amateur career. He captured the title at the 2010 Optimist International Tournament of Champions, winning by six strokes, plus he fired a nine-under par to win a 2011 Junior PGA Championship sectional qualifier. Additionally, the "Sunshine State" native finished fifth in the 2011 Florida Boys Junior Championship with a two-under par 214 and in sixth place with an even par 144 at the Golfweek East Coast Junior Invitational. "Harrison is a great player who loves the game of golf," stated Thomas. "It speaks well of our program to continue to be able to attract top nationally ranked players to Liberty. Harrison is a hard worker, who can contribute to our program immediately. He has had success at the junior level and I fully expect his success to carry over to the collegiate level. His passion, work ethic and competitiveness will be an asset to our team."
Michael Hocker (Durham, N.C.)
Michael Hocker, a home schooled student-athlete, honed his golf skills at his home golf course of Croasdaile Country Club in Durham, N.C. Hocker, who was named to the North Carolina all-state team in 2011, has several notable Top 10 finishes to high school career credit. He finished sixth at the 2011 Joe Cheves Junior Invitational with a three-under par 141, while posting a fifth-place showing at the 21st Charles Tillman Junior Championship. Hocker additionally won the 2010 AAU National Golf Championship for the U-16 Junior division, as he was the only golfer in the U-16 field to post three-consecutive scores below 75 at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, N.C. "Michael will be a great addition to our team," commented Thomas. "He has the ability to become a special player at Liberty and Coach [Jay] Calvo and I are excited to start working with him. Michael has a strong all-around game and is very athletic. He understands our goals as a program and wants to work hard to help us accomplish them."
Thomas has helped turn Liberty's golf program into a consistent Top 40 program, thanks largely in part to his ability to recruit top-notch golfers. The Flames have had a stranglehold on the Big South Freshman of the Year award of late, with three current players on this year's roster capturing the honor. Two-time Big South Golfer of the Year Robert Karlsson, who ranks No. 33 in the latest World Amateur Golf Rankings, started the run in 2009, followed by Max McKay in 2010 and Chase Marinell in 2011.
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