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Sunday, May 19
The Indiana Daily Student


No. 1 men's golfer leaves IU with professional goals

Senior has only 2 college tournaments remaining

Five years ago, a golfer from Washington, Pa., came to IU as an unheralded high school player and walked on the men's golf team. Now, that same golfer is leaving IU with aspirations of playing professionally. \nFifth-year senior Steve Wheatcroft, now IU's No. 1 player, has two tournaments remaining in his collegiate career -- this weekend's Fossum Invitational in East Lansing, Mich., followed by the Big Ten Championships, which take place in Champaign, Ill., May 4-6. Wheatcroft has come a long way from his days as solid, but not spectacular high school player at Trinity High School in suburban Pittsburgh. \n"He's a dying breed in college athletics, coming into a program as a walk-on, unheralded, unrecruited and leaving the program as an outstanding athlete with an outstanding career," coach Mike Mayer said. \nAfter redshirting during the 1996-97 season, Wheatcroft has been a major contributor to the men's golf team the past four years.\nSome of his accomplishments as a Hoosier include: being part of the team that captured the Big Ten title in 1998; compiling a scoring average of 74.5 during the 1998-99 season; earning All-Big Ten honors in 2000; and recording top 20 finishes in eight tournaments this season.\n"It's been a great ride," Wheatcroft said of his collegiate career. "I've enjoyed every single minute of being here. I have had a lot of great moments."\nMany of Wheatcroft's greatest moments on the golf course are a product of hard work. He practices when he doesn't need to, including early in the morning when most of the campus is still in bed. Those in the men's golf program said they admire Wheatcroft's work ethic.\n"He works harder than anybody else," said junior Rich Thomas, who has lived with Wheatcroft the past three years. "A lot of people don't know when he's at the course. He works on his own and he's just always working. I don't think anybody really sees that."\nWith only two weeks remaining in IU's disappointing spring season, Wheatcroft's drive has not changed during the past five years. It would be easy for many players in Wheatcroft's position to catch senioritis. But Wheatcroft isn't the type of player to cut corners.\nAs long as there's golf to play, Wheatcroft wants to win. IU's best showing in its last three tournaments was 14th place at the Marshall Invitational, April 6-7. The Hoosiers most embarrassing performance this season was a last place finish two weeks ago at the Kepler Intercollegiate.\nAfter finishing first and second in his last two fall tournaments, Wheatcroft was in position to be a dominating player this spring. But after tying for fifth at the Big Red Classic, March 10-11, Wheatcroft's best performance this spring was tying for 14th at the Dr. Pepper Intercollegiate, March 24-25.\nWheatcroft said the last few weeks have been tough. \n "I didn't want to go out this way. I didn't want the team to go out this way," he said.\nJust because his collegiate career is almost over doesn't mean Wheatcroft is finished playing competitive golf. This summer Wheatcroft plans on caddying at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club and playing amateur events in western Pennsylvania.\nAt the end of the summer, Wheatcroft said he will turn professional and play the mini tours. In October, Wheatcroft will move to Palm Beach, Fla., where competition is year round. \nThe odds are against Wheatcroft making a decent living playing professional golf. There are many players who have accomplished more as an amateur and have more talent than Wheatcroft, who are struggling to make a living playing mini tours. But five years ago playing Division I golf seemed like a long shot for Wheatcroft.\n"If he would've said he was going to play professionally three years ago, I would've laughed because I didn't think he had that kind of ability," head coach Mike Mayer said. "I still don't think he's the most talented player on the team, but he overcomes any lack of talent he might have. With what he's accomplished in the last five years I wouldn't put it past him"

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