TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, April 7, 2004
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Teeing off for the last time
Senior golfer leads team with both experience, example
Golfer credits new leadership role to this season’s success on and off the links.

By Matt Looloian
Skiff Staff


At the end of last fall, men’s golf coach Bill Montigel sat down with Stephen Polanski. Montigel told the senior that if he’d commit to working hard, he could really help the golf program.

Since then, Polanski’s hard work and leadership have propelled the No. 9 Frogs to Top-10 finishes in all four of their spring tournaments.

“He worked harder than any other guy on the team in the offseason,” Montigel said. “He committed himself to having a great spring season.”

Montigel said Polanski, one of two seniors on the team this year, has been a great example for the younger players who can see an older player dedicated to the team and the game of golf.

Being a senior on a primarily young team also helped Polanski remain focused.

“The guys look up to you,” Polanski said. “It forced me to grow up and stay away from doing the wrong things.”

Polanski showed his team he was ready to lead in a preseason qualifier for the Waikoloa Intercollegiate Tournament in Hawaii. He won the qualifier by 19 strokes over the rest of the players on the team.

His 19th place finish at the Hall of Fame Invitational March 19-21 was the best of his four-year career at TCU.

To Polanski, however, a finish is just a finish.

“The way I’ve represented my school is the thing I’m most proud of,” Polanski said.

And according to Montigel, Polanski has represented TCU well. Montigel said Polanski, beyond being a skilled golfer, has always been a superior student who earns good grades.

Polanski, a business management major, came to TCU from Livonia, a suburb of Detroit. As a freshman, he was awarded a medical redshirt by the NCAA because of a broken finger, leaving him incapable of playing the majority of the season.

The summer following his freshman year, Polanski proved he was fully rehabilitated by winning the 2000 Northern Amateur Tournament — the greatest achievement of his golf career.

Montigel went and watched the final round. He was thoroughly impressed with Polanski’s win against stiff competition.

“I knew then that he was going to be a great player,” Montigel said.

Montigel said Polanski has grown tremendously and become mentally tougher during his time at TCU. He said it was easy to rattle Polanski as a freshman, but as a senior, it’s a different story.

“Now nothing bothers him, he just goes out and plays golf,” Montigel said.

Montigel told Polanski that he will go to every tournament for the rest of the year, meaning Polanski will letter for the fourth consecutive season.

Polanski, who graduates in May, will attempt to lead the Frogs through the NCAA Central Regional May 20-22 and onto the NCAA Championships June 1-4.

After graduation, Polanski plans on pursuing a professional golf career for a few years. He recently got engaged to Michele Kruzel, a fellow Horned Frog who graduated in May 2003. The two will be married in December and plan on remaining in the Fort Worth area.
If professional golf doesn’t work out, Polanski is glad he will have a great degree from TCU to fall back on. Whether he plays professional golf or not, he’s pleased with the influence golf has had on him.

“Golf presents so many opportunities and challenges that it’s made me a better person,” he said.

Polanski said TCU means a lot to him and he is grateful for his experiences here.

“I’m going to miss TCU, that’s for sure,” Polanski said. “It’s been great playing Colonial all the time and living the dream life before I have to do it all on my own.”
Stephen Polanski
Special to the Skiff
 
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