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Men’s preview: Southland Conference

A successful spring season, which included being named the 2011 Southland Conference Player of the Year, didn’t organically translate into an equally successful fall for Lamar senior M.J. Daffue. Rather, it was a wake-up call from coach Brian White that shook Daffue, originally from South Africa, out of an early season slump.

Instead of including Daffue as part of the team competition at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in Dallas, Texas, White thought that playing him as an individual was the right thing to do. He also thought it would have an impact on the senior’s mental game, which is equally important as his physical game and needed to be tested.

Describing his positive outlook going into the tournament, Daffue said, “Rather than sit out, I decided I was going to enjoy this tournament and look at it like a it was a casual round of golf.”

However, the round was anything but casual, as Daffue won the individual title and, at 11-under 201, established a 54-hole tournament record. But since his score didn’t count toward the team total, Lamar came in T-7 in a field that included winner Texas A&M and Duke, the second-place team finisher.

White believes this sacrifice at Royal Oaks was a small price to pay for a greater payoff later in the season; that is, an improved mental game on Daffue’s part.

“Having my score contribute to the team would have been nice, but you really can’t expect to play in every tournament,” Daffue explained. “You may be the No. 1 or 2 player on your team, but it’s still a privilege to get to go to tournaments and compete against some of the best college players in the country.”

Daffue’s humble, level-headed attitude, coupled with a heightened sense of confidence – the silver lining to his bittersweet victory at Royal Oaks – will serve him well going forward in the Cardinals’ spring season which includes the upcoming Callaway Farms Invitational, as well as at the Southland Conference Championship and potential vie at NCAA Regionals.

“We have a tough schedule coming up this spring. But if my seniors play like they’re supposed to, we will survive and meet our goals of winning the conference and getting to regionals” White said.

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Top team from the fall: Lamar

Top player from the fall: Paul McConnell, UTA

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Past champions

2007: Lamar

2008: Lamar

2009: Lamar

2010: SE Louisiana

2011: Texas-Arlington

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Conference capsules

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Complete coverage

Wondering how your favorite conference is shaping up headed into the spring season? Who is our favorite to pick up the automatic qualifier? Check out our conference-by-conference break down with our complete coverage page here.

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