Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bulls Make Title Run

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bulls Make Title Run

Article excerpt

THE HOSTS: Bradenton resident Steve Bradley leads rising program

BRADENTON -- When Steve Bradley took over the University of South Florida men's golf program in July, being the host school of the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton was the last thing on his mind.

However, after the Bulls breezed through the New Haven Regional two weeks ago, the NCAA Championships is the only thing on Bradley's mind.

Nationally ranked South Florida led from start to finish, in posting a 14-under par to win by 14 strokes and earn its first trip to the NCAAs.

"It was just a great three days of golf and guys are supremely confident right now," Bradley said.

Ranked 13th by Golfweek and 15th in the Coaches Golf World polls, the Bulls will compete today through Wednesday at the The Concession Golf Club.

"We're very excited to go compete for national championship," Bradley said. "That's what we've been working for all year and that's what some of these guys have invested into for several years."

After spending three seasons at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, Bradley replaced Chris Malloy, who went to Ole Miss.

As he did at Mercer -- elevating the Bears from 103rd to 32nd in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings -- Bradley did the same with South Florida.

And it all began with recruiting.

"I had some preconceived notions when I got here," Bradley said . "In actuality, recruiting the state is huge, but what USF is made of -- the campus, student body, the current makeup and dynamics of the team -- I'm going to recruit the state and recruit internationally, trying to find the best golfers to come and be the best fit for my coaching personality, the personality of the guys on the team and a good fit for our academic institution."

Bradley said recruiting remains his biggest challenge.

"Recruiting is a challenge wherever you go," he said. "The better you are, the better the talent you try to recruit. When I was at Mercer, we worked our way up. There were certain guys you could get. As you got better, you went after the better guys.

"Where we are as a program, we are trying to steal guys from FSU and UF and Alabama. We're not going after the guys we know we can get any more. We've raised our standards."

Having started his playing career at Florida State, where he played two years, before ending with two seasons at Florida, Bradley knows the ins and outs of the two major programs in the state.

"We're trying to figure out what we can do to separate ourselves from FSU and UF, especially within the state," Bradley said. "That's challenging, but we're trying, and we're learning."

Bradley also spent three seasons as an assistant at Florida under Buddy Alexander. Although it fluctuates, the Bradenton resident developed his own personality when he comes to coaching. …

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