International flavor sparks rise of Texas Tech and reunion at the Spirit International

International flavor sparks rise of Texas Tech and reunion at the Spirit International

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International flavor sparks rise of Texas Tech and reunion at the Spirit International

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TRINITY, Texas – If he had wanted to, Texas Tech men’s golf coach Greg Sands could have made this week’s Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship a qualifier for the team’s first spring match. Five Red Raiders are among the field of 38 male amateurs competing at Whispering Pines Golf Club in the biennial competition for golfers from 19 different countries.

Senior standout Sandy Scott and junior Jamie Stewart are representing Scotland and sophomore Markus Braadlie is playing for Norway. Sweden’s Adam Blomme and Colombia’s Ivan Ramirez are fifth-year seniors who have both exhausted their college eligibility but are still completing their degrees. So while bragging rights are on the line between these friends and teammates, so is something else. Braadlie, Scott and Stewart have a side bet where whoever makes the fewest birdies during the 54-hole competition has to jump in the lake at the 18th hole at the Rawls Course at Texas Tech. Heading into the final day, Braadlie had recorded seven and Scott and Stewart were tied with six.

“The water is getting cold,” Scott said. “We really can’t lose to Markus because he’s vicious. He’ll never let us live it down. He looks innocent, but he’s not.”

So how do golfers from Scotland, Norway, Sweden and Colombia land in Lubbock?

“That’s a good question,” says Scott, who represented Great Britain & Ireland in this year’s Walker Cup. “Coach saw me in Finland, of all places, at the European Junior Championships.”

Spirit International: Scores | Photos

Half of the Texas Tech team is made up of international players – freshman Ludvig Aberg of Sweden was this year’s star recruit – and the rest are from Texas (with a recruit from Oklahoma expected to arrive next year). Together, this United Nations of golfers has melded into a formidable contender for this spring’s national championship. The Red Raiders have qualified for match play at the NCAA Championship twice – in 2010 and 2017 – but this might be the best team yet.

“This is the deepest team I’ve ever had,” says Sands, in his 19th year leading the program. “From No. 1 to 8, our whole roster can contribute at any moment and they’re having to compete just to make the lineup and really pushing each other.”


Watch the live stream of The Spirit International 2019 from Whispering Pines on Saturday, right here on Golfweek.com.


All that talent has led to the most decorated fall in school history. Texas Tech reeled off wins at the Carmel Cup, Inverness Intercollegiate and Big 12 Match Play. In its only other start, the team finished fourth at the Tavistock Collegiate, and for the first time finished the fall season ranked No. 1 in one of the major polls and No. 3 in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin College Ranking. But Texas Tech players aren’t letting their lofty position in the polls go to their heads.

“I’ve always believed that rankings don’t really mean much,” said Stewart, a junior transfer from Missouri. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to prepare for the spring and our goal of bringing a national title to Lubbock.”

If they succeed, it will be thanks, in part, to the team’s international flavor.

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