Kerry Sweeney Among Best Golfers Ever at Eastern Florida, One of Top NJCAA Golfers of All Time
By Dr. Jim Palermo // December 7, 2020
2018 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
HALL OF FAME SPOTLIGHT
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Eastern Florida State College (EFSC), formerly Brevard Community College, has an illustrious golf history with seven NJCAA national titles, eight individual national championships, and a host of All-Americans and players who competed and excelled professionally.
2018 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee Kerry Sweeney’s two-year accomplishments rank him as one of the best to ever play for the Titans and among the top NJCAA golfers of all time.
After a spectacular senior season at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in which he won the FHSAA Class 1A Boys state championship in November 2013, and then captured the 2014 club championship at Suntree Country Club in Melbourne, Sweeney matriculated at EFSC to learn from and play for legendary Titan golf coach and Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductee Jamie Howell.
Under Howell’s tutelage, Sweeney’s performance on the links as a freshman earned him first-team PING and first-team NJCAA All-American status, as well as the Phil Mickelson Award, which is presented by the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation to the most outstanding freshman in NJCAA Division I Men’s Golf.
He finished tied for second with teammate Mickey DeMorat at the 2015 NJCAA Men’s Division I National Championship, with the dynamic duo of Sweeney and DeMorat propelling the Titans to a second-place finish nationally as a team.
His stellar accomplishments garnered Sweeney the 2015 Jack Nicklaus Award as the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Collegiate Player of the Year at the NJCAA level. The Nicklaus Award recognizes the top players at the NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA and NJCAA levels.
“We couldn’t be more proud and excited for Kerry,” said college President Dr. Jim Richey of Sweeney’s accolades in 2015. “He exemplifies what a student-athlete is all about on and off the field of competition, and we’re fortunate to have a young man of his character as a Titan.”
Fortunate indeed, but Sweeney was just getting started. In his sophomore year, he won the 2016 NJCAA Individual Championship, which was held at the Duran Golf Club in Viera.
Upset with himself at the end of Thursday’s third round after missing a birdie putt on the 18th green to card a 70 in front of a home crowd, Sweeney charged into the final round with steely determination.
He posted birdies on the first, third, sixth and ninth holes to make the turn 4-under, and then birdied 10 and 11 as well as 14 on the back nine without making a bogey in the final round to post a winning 7-under 65 for the championship and becoming the eighth player in Titan program history to win a national title.
During the 2016 season, Sweeney’s three runner-up and eight top-ten tournament finishes complementing his national title again earned him All-American honors and the NJCAA Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award, making him the only NJCAA golfer to ever win that award in consecutive years.
“Winning that national championship was more valuable to me than anything. It was as special a moment for me as anything,” Sweeney said. “Then to be at the Jack Nicklaus event, during the Memorial Tournament, talking to Jack and he was talking about me trying to win it three times in a row. It was memorable.”
Unfortunately for EFSC, after Sweeney’s success at the NJCAA Division I level, many NCAA Division I programs came calling. The University of Mississippi golf coach, Chris Malloy had been following Sweeney’s career closely since he was a junior at Holy Trinity and Coach Malloy was at USF.
“It is a growing program and the coaches will do whatever they can to help me reach the top of my game,” Sweeney said of his choice to continue his education and golf career at Ole Miss.
In his two years at Ole Miss, Sweeney has been a leading contributor to the success of the golf team, finishing with a 72.78 stroke average (3rd best on the team) and helping the Rebels advance to the NCAA Championships in 2017; and posting the team’s second-lowest stroke average (73.13) during this, his senior season.
Sweeney and his teammates are looking to the SEC Championship Tournament April 25-29 and another shot at the NCAA championship. Beyond that, the lure and challenges of the professional ranks are most certainly in Kerry Sweeney’s sites and future.
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