Junior golfer William Harwood was selected the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Men’s Golfer of the Year as selected by the nine conference head coaches.
This award makes the junior from Colombia, South Carolina, the first CAA Golfer of the Year in Elon Univeristy history. Going into the 2018-2019 season, Harwood was just hoping to tally five top-10 finishes and two individual wins as a way to step in for loss of experienced seniors.
“I’m ecstatic to be to be CAA golfer of the year, but going into the season it’s not like that was directly one of my top priorities. I just try to go out and do the best job that I can to try to get us a victory each week,” Harwood said.
Harwood was able to achieve most of his goals while also posting an average score under 72 through 29 rounds of golf this season. Following his strong second place showing at the CAA tournament, he speculated that he had a chance to be named player of the year. He thought that the polling would be close between him and University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s freshman sensation, Segundo Oliva Pinto.
“Phil [Loeb, senior golfer] and I were kinda looking at the numbers one night and I said, ‘You know Phil, it’s not in my hands anymore but if this kid wins it, going off the numbers he definitely deserves it,’” Harwood said.
Harwood was in his apartment scrolling through Twitter when he saw the historic announcement. The first thing he thought to do amidst all the emotions was to call his father, Bill — the man who introduced Harwood to golf as a kid and was by his side throughout his development in the sport.
Harwood recalled that the announcement coming from his son’s voice brought Bill to tears.
“You know, there aren’t too many better things than hearing your dad say he’s proud of you. That was a really special moment,” Harwood said.
Harwood’s father wasn’t the only one brought to tears by the announcement. Head Golf Coach Don Hill admitted some tears of joy escaped him when the two embraced following the announcement. For Hill, the emotion came from seeing one of his hardest working players happy and feeling accomplished.
“As a coach, I don’t want them to win for me, I want them to win for [themselves]. Because when you’re winning in college golf, it can be the absolute best experience in college you can possibly have,” Hill said.
In his junior year, Harwood has already established himself as a leader on and off the course through his energy and work ethic, qualities that he attributes to past Phoenix leaders. Harwood, always the competitor, has been known to push the younger players in practice — even challenging them to putting or chipping competitions when he sees them practicing complacently. Outside of golf, he was the first golfer to go through the leadership program through athletics and he was on the president’s council for athletics. These experiences and attributes make him a great role model for younger players.
“He’s taken all these different experiences, and then you combine that with this incredible golf talent and this even more incredible work ethic to create what you would say is a prototypical student athlete,” Hill said.
Though the title of CAA Golfer of the Year is a individual accolade, it has impacts far beyond Harwood himself. This accomplishment was not only huge for Harwood, his family and his coaches, but also for the Elon golf program as a whole by inspiring younger Elon golfers to aim high.
“For us it also validates for the guys on the team that play with him every day, who probably believe they’re as good as he is, say, ‘Hey, if he can do it, I can do it,’” Hill said.
Harwood said that while he is taking time to relax and reflect on this great accomplishment he is already looking forward to getting after it next fall.
“I told coach Hill [on Wednesday], ‘Anyone can win this once, I’m going to try to go back-to-back with it,’” Harwood said.