College Men

Men's spring preview: ACC

Florida State's Daniel Berger
Florida State's Daniel Berger ( Tracy Wilcox )

Friday, January 4, 2013

Editor's note: Over the next month, will be previewing every conference that has an automatic bid into the NCAA Regionals. For all of the men's conference capsules, click here.

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Jay Berger was the captain of the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s tennis team. His son, Daniel, is having success on grass as well, but on the golf course.

Daniel Berger, a Florida State sophomore, has developed into one of the nation’s top collegians. He ended the fall season at No. 14 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings and had a strong December on the amateur circuit. He won the Dixie Amateur by an incredible 13 shots and finished third at the Patriot All-American.

“Daniel drives the ball really well,” Florida State golf coach Trey Jones said. “He has a good combination of length and accuracy. Mentally, bad shots do not affect him the way they do some other collegiate golfers. He gets his mind ready for his next shot as soon as the previous shot is over.”

Berger, of Jupiter, Fla., is the highest-ranked player in the Atlantic Coast Conference after the fall season. The Seminoles, at No. 30 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, are one of six top-30 teams in the conference.

Berger didn’t qualify for the team’s season opener at the Inverness Intercollegiate, but started with a 16th-place finish at the Ping/Golfweek Preview. He followed with three consecutive top-5 finishes: runner-up at Olympia Fields, fifth at the Cabo Intercollegiate and tied for third at the Patriot All-American.

Berger shot 63-67-65-70 at the Dixie Amateur to finish at 22-under 265. Last summer, he was third at the Southern Amateur and eighth at the Dogwood.

Like many freshmen, Berger needed some time to adjust to college golf. He finished outside the top 25 in his first four starts. He was one of the Seminoles’ leaders by the end of the season, finishing seventh at the ACC Championship, third at the NCAA Southwest Regional and T-21 at the NCAA Championship.

“He came (to Florida State) with a great competitive spirit, but lacked organization,” Jones said. “Each step Daniel takes up the ladder, he doesn't look back. In late March, he was competing for a spot in the lineup, in April he was low for our team in the ACC and NCAA Southwest Regional. Daniel can and wants to be the best player in college golf.”

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Where it stands now

Top of the class: Duke

Best player this fall: Daniel Berger, Florida State

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Past Champions

2008: Florida State

2009: Georgia Tech

2010: Georgia Tech

2011: Georgia Tech

2012: Georgia Tech

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Conference Capsules

Duke (Golfweek/Sagarin ranking: No. 9)

The Blue Devils are the ACC’s top team after fall victories on their home turf (Rod Myers Invitational) and in rival territory (Tar Heel Intercollegiate). Brinson Paolini (three top-6 finishes in four starts) is the highest-ranked Blue Devil, at No. 26 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.

Georgia Tech (No. 10)

The Yellow Jackets followed an 11th-place finish at the season-opening Carpet Capital by finishing 1st-2nd-1st at the Ping-Golfweek Preview (where they tied Cal), the Brickyard Intercollegiate and the U.S. Collegiate. They’ll have a new assistant coach – Brennan Webb – for the spring season after going without one in the fall.

Clemson (No. 20)

The Tigers didn’t finish better than fourth this fall, but that’s in part because they played the nation’s seventh-hardest schedule. Redshirt freshman Stephen Behr made a strong debut, finishing in the top-10 in his first two tournaments. He’s 28th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

Wake Forest (No. 24)

A runner-up finish at the Golfweek Conference Challenge was Wake Forest’s only top-5 finish of the fall season. Evan Beck (No. 32 in the Golfweek rankings), a 2011 All-American, seems back on track after struggling last season.

North Carolina (No. 25)

The Tar Heels played well in their home state, winning North Carolina State’s tournament and finishing second at their own Tar Heel Intercollegiate and Duke’s Rod Myers Invitational. The Tar Heels to crack the top-10 in two road games (Carpet Capital, Royal Oaks), though.

Florida State (No. 30)

The Seminoles were runners-up at Inverness and third at Olympia Fields, but were hurt by a 14th-place finish at the 15-team Preview. Daniel Berger starts the spring after a 13-stroke victory at the Dixie Amateur and third-place finish at the Patriot All-American.

Virginia Tech (No. 52)

Sophomore Scott Vincent followed the path of PGA Tour player Brendon de Jonge from Zimbabwe to Virginia Tech. Vincent has been the team’s highlight this season, posting three top-6 finishes in four starts. The Hokies opened this season by winning their first two starts.

Virginia (No. 56)

The Cavaliers not only are dealing with the absence of Ben Kohles, but also Ben Rusch, the 2012 ACC individual champion. Rusch, of Switzerland, is redshirting the season after the NCAA ruled he only had three years of collegiate eligibility. Denny McCarthy, at No. 57 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, is the Cavaliers’ highest-ranked player; he won the Northern Intercollegiate for his first career title.

North Carolina State (No. 83)

As expected, Albin Choi has been the highlight for the Pack this season. Choi won both the Warrior Wave Invitational and Tar Heel Intercollegiate in the fall. He is No. 30 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. The Wolfpack is expected to add South Carolina transfer Logan Harrell for the spring.

Maryland (No. 95)

The Terrapins posted top-five finishes at the VCU Shootout and Wolfpack Intercollegiate. Sean Bosdosh is No. 47 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, nearly 450 spots better than the second-best player on the team.

Boston College (No. 133)

Boston College may be the lowest-ranked team in the ACC, but it also is ranked more than 100 spots higher than it was ranked at the end of last season (No. 237). Andy Mai, at No. 449 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, is the team’s highest-ranked player.

Conference championship

ACC Championship, April 26-28, The Old North State Club at Uwharrie Point, New London, N.C.

Lance Ringler's prediction

Georgia Tech. There is just something about the ACC Championship and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Bruce Hepler's team has won four straight by an average margin of 10.8 shots. Georgia Tech wins big again this year at The Old North State Club. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.