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TMC golf: Return to form

TMC’s Anderson has rebounded after a tough junior season

Posted: May 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 24, 2011 1:55 a.m.

The Master’s College senior golfer Kevin Anderson will begin play in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship today in Silvis, Ill. He’s come a long way since injury and a lack of chemistry with other members of the team derailed his junior season.

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The kind of season Kevin Anderson is having warrants an explanation.

Truthfully, not even Anderson himself is exactly sure why he suddenly put together a stretch of the best golf of his life for The Master’s College this year.

But he has. And oddly enough, the senior has done it a year after one of his most disappointing campaigns of his competitive career.

“I guess I attribute it to, I don’t know, more of a clear mind after coming back and not playing all summer,” Anderson says.

In his fourth year at TMC, Anderson has tallied three first-place finishes in tournaments, including the National Christian College Athletic Association championship at Panama City, Fla. last October. His three-day score of 3-under par led the Mustangs to an overall team victory.

That was early in the season, but his success only grew from there.

The 22-year-old finished in the top 10 individually in all but one event he played. He recorded the team’s best score in seven of the 10 events during the 2010-11 season. Both totals are personal bests.

“One of the things that stands out to me about Kevin is, every year, he improves,” says Anderson’s oldest brother, John, who also played golf at TMC. “Since he was 12 or 13, that’s been the case. And this year has especially been a big improvement for him.”

The youngest of four brothers, Anderson most recently tied for first at the Regional Championships on April 19 on San Jacinto. That boosted his team to a berth in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship, which begin today.

He was named to the Golden State Athletic Conference/California Pacific/Cascade All-Region team for his efforts.

All that came after a summer which was nearly devoid of golf — a surprising move for a passionate athlete like Anderson.
“I only played six or seven times this summer, almost in a way giving up my dream to play professional golf after a pretty bum year last year,” he says. “I kind of hung up the sticks all together.”

During his junior season, Anderson battled a lingering knee injury after having knee surgery as a sophomore. He still has to do extra stretching and exercises to deal with it.

He also battled turmoil among his teammates and a self-described lack of focus. As a result, Anderson’s game regressed in his junior year, during which he didn’t win a single tournament.

That all came after a sophomore season in which he was named one of the best 15 golfers in the NAIA West Region.

“He hasn’t come out of nowhere in that sense, but he’s definitely improved a lot this year,” says TMC golf coach Jason Semelsberger.

Prior to the start of senior year, Kevin decided to forego his plan to enter amateur tournaments and test the waters of the semi-pro arena. Instead, he accepted an accounting internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers in downtown Los Angeles.

A summer spent in a high-rise office building without an ounce of competitive golf gave him a different perspective.

“I think my mindset switched a little bit last year, and I kind of said, ‘If I’m passionate and excited about golf, what else can I be passionate and excited about?’” Anderson says.

That didn’t mean his golfing career was over. Far from it.

Last fall, he came into golf season with a reinvigorated attitude but a lack of practice.

In one of the first qualifying rounds of the season, he recalls shooting a 78, which put him in sixth place among his teammates. Only the top five travel to tournaments.

Unlike years past, when teammates weren’t all on the same page in terms of spirituality and work ethic, Anderson quickly found out this year’s group was going to push him.

The competition forced Kevin to go back to the basics, and it turned out that’s what he needed all along.

“I think he really has committed to getting out on the course and not getting too technical,” John says. “I think he’s worked really hard on his swing for a lot of years, and now I think he kind of trusts it.”

As he gained more trust, the scores went down. With each passing day, Anderson became content with his game.

“He just has a comfort and a peace in his relationship with God, and that has really helped in his life and in golf,” Semelsberger says.

Though it has been a surprisingly successful year for Anderson, he still plans to follow through with a job offer he accepted at PricewaterhouseCoopers in October.

He’s already graduated with a degree in business administration, and he’ll try his hand at a few amateur tournaments to get a feel for where he stacks up with tour players.

In the distant future, his golfing career is uncertain.

In the near future, Anderson is concerned with performing at the NAIA National Championship in Silvis, Ill., this week, and he wouldn’t want to compete with any other squad.

“This team, more so than any other team over the past few years, is more passionate,” he says.

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