Barry University golf coach Jimmy Stobs, on a scouting mission, was there in San Diego in 2010 when Canadian Adam Svensson won the Junior Worlds Championship at the Torrey Pines course.
“I was 20 yards away when he came back to win,” Stobs said of Svensson, who made a birdie on the last hole to rally from a two-stroke deficit in the prestigious event.
Now, because of some unusual circumstances, Svensson is a freshman at Barry, and the Buccaneers are aiming for their first Division II national title since 2007.
Svensson, who turned 19 on New Year’s Eve, arrived in Miami on the night that Alabama beat Notre Dame for the BCS national championship.
He had his heart set on competing at that same level, which is why he signed with Nevada-Las Vegas. But two weeks before he was to enroll, UNLV officials — who had up to that point assured him he was in good shape academically — told him he would not be admitted.
Svensson, who declined to talk in depth about the issue, calling it “embarrassing,” but Stobs said the phenom’s grades were just fine.
The problem, Stobs said, was that Svensson had 15 core courses, one less than is required by Division I. On the Division II level, the minimum requirement is 14 core courses.
When UNLV rescinded its offer, the timing was bad. The dozens of other Division I programs Svensson had offers from had by then awarded all their scholarships.
So, when Stobs called him about a chance to play for a Division II power, Svensson was receptive.
Svensson, a native of Surrey, British Columbia, won the 2012 Canadian Junior Boys National Championship with a final round of 7-under-par 64. He now joins a talented and deep roster at Barry, which is ranked second in the nation, one spot behind local rival Nova Southeastern.
“We’ve been a top-two team for the past four years in the regular season,” Stobs said, “but we’ve stumbled at nationals. We have to peak at the right time. The hottest team in the middle of May will win the championship.”
The Bucs have 13 golfers and only five can start, but it seems certain Svensson will earn one of those coveted roles.
Stobs, who said he had “a big smile on my face” when Svensson decided to attend Barry, realizes he has an outstanding prospect.
“He has it all,” said Stobs, who is in his 11th season coaching Barry. “He’s a very good ballstriker. His course management is very similar to that of a pro. He knows what he’s doing, and he keeps his emotions in check. His future is very bright.”
Barry junior Jared Dalga, a transfer from Eastern Michigan, has been impressed by what he has seen so far of Svensson.
“Adam is going to start — no question — and that’s huge because he’s just a freshman,” Dalga said. “His tee ball is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anyone hit it so consistently straight.”
Stobs said Svensson’s short game needs to improve, and the teenager did not disagree.
But Svensson doesn’t lack for confidence. He plans on playing on the PGA Tour someday, and that victory at Torrey Pines is never far from his mind.
“The way I won it, I will never forget that,” Svensson said. “I still look back at it when I play tournaments, knowing that I could do that again.”