SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – Eight-thousand and thirty-two days. That’s how long it had been since the Seton Hall University men’s golf team secured their last Big East Championship back in 2000. The over 20-year drought finally came to an end on April 27.
For head coach Clay White, he finally secured that elusive conference title that has haunted him throughout his entire coaching career, cementing himself in the history books at Seton Hall.
The 2021-22 season can only be described as magical, as not even the most optimistic of Seton Hall fans could have predicted a conference championship to start the season.
The previous season had not been kind to the Pirates. Coming off a year-and-a-half hiatus, the Pirates were only able to muster one top-four finish in the regular season, placing third at the Big Texan Tournament in Kerrville, Texas.
Come the Big East Conference Tournament, the Pirates seemed to have shifted into another gear, as they finished third with a team score of 882, the lowest for Seton Hall at the Big East Championship since 2010. This proved the Pirates can play when the lights are the brightest.
Entering the 2021-22 season, the Pirates retained five of their six golfers from the championship roster including Gregor Tait and Andreas Acevedo who both tied for the fifth-best individual score at the event and made the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team.
They also added Angus O’Brien, a freshman from Australia who had already been a multiple time championship winner and would prove to be an impact golfer from day one.
The Pirates started the season off hot, picking up a second-place finish at the Alex Magowitz Memorial Tournament, their best placing since October of 2018. Tait and O’Brien both finished in the top-10 among individual performers, scoring a 1-over-par, while Acevedo placed 13th with a 3-over par.
The next event saw the Pirates secure another top-two finish as a team, with a historic individual performance from sophomore Wanxi Sun. Sun and Acevedo both placed top-5 with a 7-under par. For Sun, this was his first ever top-5 finish, and he tied the program record for lowest single-round score on a par-72 course, scoring a 7-under-par, (65), in the second round.
🚨🚨 BREAKING 🚨🚨
Andres Acevedo and Alex Sun have been named BIG EAST Co-Golfers of the Week!!
— Seton Hall Men's Golf (@SHUMGolf) September 22, 2021
After a rocky top-8 finish at the Georgetown Intercollegiate Tournament, the Pirates looked to bounce-back at the Daniel Island Invitation, their last tournament of the fall season. Indeed, the Pirates bounced back as they won their first tournament title since 2017. Junior Wenliang Xie was the individual runner-up scoring 3-under-par and Acevedo picked up another top-10 finish scoring an even-par.
Coming off a two month break, the Pirates continued their momentum in Big East Match Play, securing two dominant wins against St. John’s and Sacred Heart before eventually falling to UConn, 3-2-1.
After conference play, the Pirates went on a six-tournament stretch where they didn’t place below fourth, securing two top-two finishes and two tournament titles.
For the season, the Pirates were tied for the most selections on the All-BIG EAST Team as Acevedo and Tait secured first-team spots and Xie earned second-team honors.
It was a very successful regular season for the Pirates, but the job was not finished.
The Pirates entered the Big East Championship as one of the top teams but still had to overcome national powerhouse Marquette and the defending Big East champions, UConn. The anticipated matchup surely didn’t disappoint. After the first two rounds, Marquette and UConn were tied for first place with Seton Hall only trailing by one stroke. As the old saying goes, “pressure makes diamonds” and Seton Hall performed its best golf in the biggest moment of the season. They finished 10-under par, (278), in round three to finish with an overall score of 15-under par, claiming its first Big East title in 22 years. The 278 score is the lowest single-round score in program history at the tournament.
𝗦𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟮 𝗕𝗜𝗚 𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗧 𝗠𝗲𝗻’𝘀 𝗚𝗼𝗹𝗳 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽 🏌️♂️⛳️🏆
— BIG EAST Conference (@BIGEAST) April 29, 2022
The biggest star had to be graduate student Gregor Tait. Tait entered the third-round trailing UConn’s Caleb Manuel by six strokes for the best individual score. He hit six birdies and an eagle to go 7-under par in the third round, allowing him to catch-up to Manuel and earn a share of the Big East individual crown at 11-under par. Tait’s three-round score of 205 broke Seton Hall’s previous record for lowest three-round score in the Big East Championship, shattering Lloyd Jefferson Go’s record of 210 which he set back in 2016.
— Seton Hall Men's Golf (@SHUMGolf) April 27, 2022
Angus O’Brien and Wenliang Xie both tied for sixth place at 2-under-par and Andres Acevedo tied for 10th place with an even-par.
Along with a team Big East championship and an individual Big East champion, Seton Hall’s coaching staff was named BIG EAST Men’s Golf Coaching Staff of the Year, receiving the recognition for the first time since 2000.
Seton Hall’s dream season ended at the NCAA Yale Regional as they failed to finish in the top-five, placing eighth at the event with a score of 8-over-par. The eighth-place finish is the best in program history at an NCAA Regional and their team score of 848 is also the lowest in program history.
For graduate students Andres Acevedo and Gregor Tait, they finish their collegiate careers with a top-25 placing, scoring 1-under par each. They have both been integral parts of Seton Hall’s golf history and the 2021-22 season wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Senior Deven Ramachandran, who golfed in the last three Big East Championships, possibly ended his Seton Hall career scoring a 10-over-par in the Yale Regional.
The Pirates still have talent on this roster with Wenliang Xie (6-over-par), Angus O’Brien (11-over-par) and Wanxi Sun, but the losses of Acevedo and Tait will certainly be felt. The question for next year remains: Can this Pirates squad repeat their 2021-22 success or was last season a flash-in-the-pan?