'Toba champ takes Texas

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 6:57 AM ET

Jordan Krantz picked the perfect time to win his first college golf tournament.

Krantz, a senior for the University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks, shot 69-70-69 in Kingwood, Texas, two weeks ago to win the Southland Conference championship by five strokes.

His 8-under total also propelled the Mavericks to their first conference title since 1999, which means the 24-year-old will lead UTA into the NCAA Division I Central Regional tournament in South Bend, Ind., May 19-21.

"If I couldn't play tomorrow, I'd definitely be very satisfied with how I finished this year," Krantz said during the weekend from Arlington.

Despite hailing from the Northwestern Ontario town of Vermilion Bay, Krantz developed his game in the Golf Manitoba system. He was a solid junior player, and last year he won the Manitoba men's amateur.

The left-hander, in fact, attributed much of his success to Golf Manitoba coaches Derek Ingram and Garth Goodbrandson.

"My game wasn't quite at the level (it is now) when I first came down here," Krantz said. "I made a lot of changes and a lot of improvements with Derek Ingram.

"It's taken me a very long time to kind of learn everything that he's taught me, but I think some of the things that we've worked on, mentally and physically, are finally starting to have some payoffs."

Krantz even talks to Ingram after every tournament round.

"I consider him a very good friend now after working with him for so long, but there's a ton of credit that goes to him as well as Garth Goodbrandson," Krantz said. "He spent countless hours with me through my junior years."

Those hours are paying huge dividends. Krantz was voted the Southland Conference player of the year last week, he has been named UTA's male student-athlete of the year and this season he is an NCAA Academic All-American.

To achieve the Academic All-American honour, a golfer must play in 70% of his team's tournaments, have a stroke average of 75 or better and possess a grade-point average of at least 3.5.

Krantz will graduate on Monday with a degree in exercise science and an impressive 3.89 GPA. Krantz said only about 20 of 3,000 NCAA Division I golfers qualify for the academic award.

'THAT'S JUST WHAT DRIVES ME'

"I like being in the classroom, but to be on the course and be in position to win, that's just what drives me right now," Krantz said.

The Mavericks will play a tournament in Oklahoma next week as a tune-up for regionals. The best 10 teams at regionals, as well as top individuals, will advance to the national championship in Baltimore June 1-4.

The Mavericks made it to regionals during Krantz's freshman year, when he was occupying the No. 5 spot on the team, but times have changed.

"I'm a very different player now than I was," he said.

Krantz will be back to defend his amateur title in July, since he doesn't plan on turning pro until 2006 at the earliest.

That makes him the man to beat in Manitoba this season.

"I'm really looking forward to playing in the (amateur) again," Krantz said. "I love playing against all the guys back home.

"I've changed a lot as a player. I've matured a lot and gained a lot of confidence with the couple wins I've had and the good finishes this year."


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