Spectacular Fall Moves Overton Into Nation's Elite|
Four victories in four events. New school 18-hole (64), 36-hole (130) and 54-hole (199) records. GolfWorld Magazine's Golfer of the Week. A 67.18 stroke average.
Those accolades are enough to fill a golfer's career resume. IU junior golf standout Jeff Overton accomplished all this in one fall season.
His performance also propelled the 19th-ranked Hoosiers to three consecutive victories, the first time an IU team has won three straight events since the 1974-75 season. Coupled with a second-place finish at the season-opening Northern Intercollegiate, the team completed one of the most successful fall seasons in the program's history.
Overton, the top-ranked golfer in the country in Golfstat's latest rankings, surged into collegiate golf's elite with a spectacular fall. Beginning with his first collegiate victory at the Northern Intercollegiate and concluding with his fourth and final victory at the Xavier Invitational, Overton started his All-America campaign in style.
Reaching the top of the collegiate golf world is never an easy task, especially for someone attending a midwestern university. The top spots in the country are normally reserved for golfers from southern or western schools, but Overton is out to break that trend.
In fact, when it came to choosing where he wanted to compete at the collegiate level, the Evansville, Ind., native never had a doubt he would attend Indiana University.
"I was born and raised in Indiana," said Overton. "I have always loved Indiana University. The university put a lot of money into the team's practice facility, making it one of the top facilities in the country. Those two factors made me think it would be most beneficial for me to attend Indiana University."
IU unveiled its new state-of-the-art practice facility in 2002, enabling the team to hit any type of shot under tournament conditions. The facility, regarded as the top practice area in the Big Ten and one of the best facilities in the nation, has two large bent grass teeing areas on each end. Seven large USGA greens and 19 white sand bunkers also grace the facility.
The upper end of the practice area includes an 11,000 square foot pitching and chipping area surrounded by 11 bunkers. From the main hitting area on the lower end, the team can hit shots from 175 yards in onto five USGA greens.
"The greens are true greens," said Overton. "I hit 500 balls at the facility a day, and the greens actually react the way normal greens would. It's a lot more beneficial to practice on that than a regular driving range like other schools have."
A driving factor in bringing the facility to IU was Indiana men's golf coach Mike Mayer. Mayer, in his sixth season at the helm of the Hoosiers, has been and continues to be a positive influence for Overton and has helped make Indiana golf competitive on a national level once again.
"Coach was an assistant coach when the team won the Big Ten Championship (1998)," said Overton. "He knows the game of golf, and he's an all-around good coach and teacher."
Mayer has been at IU since 1990. He was an assistant coach until he took over the head reigns before the 1998-99 season. During his tenure, he has coached and been around some special players, including this year's PGA Champion Shaun Micheel.
This past summer, Micheel returned to use the practice facility weeks before he became the first Hoosier to capture a major championship and just the second Hoosier to capture a title on the PGA tour.
Does Overton have visions of competing on the professional tour and following in the footsteps of his Hoosier brethren?
"Watching Micheel win the PGA was awesome," said Overton. "It showed someone from Indiana could win a major event and represent the school. Hopefully I can continue to get better and do what I've been doing. You never know what can happen."
If he repeats his fall performance in the spring, Jeff Overton will be well on his way.