The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

May 14, 2014

Mullens’ Muscari finishes career as Mountain Lion

— The love affair between Evan Muscari and the sport of golf did not end last week when he wrapped up his collegiate play for Concord University.

The Mullens native plans to keep swinging, though medical school may limit his time on the course for a few years.

“Golf, it’s the greatest game you’ll ever play,” he said earlier this week. “It’s something you’ll never master. You really never play the same course twice — conditions change, something changes. It’s hard to get bored with it.”

He gave up baseball to concentrate on golf at about 12 years of age, and worked on his game primarily at the Twin Falls State Park course.

“Mostly I was hanging around my dad (Mike) and my granddad (Sam Muscari Sr.),” he said.

His father had played golf for Concord, and he followed suit after graduating from Wyoming East High in 2010 and taking a one-semester detour to the golf team at Furman University.

At Concord, he said, “I just feel like I matured as a player. Used to be I’d get mad; one bad shot, one bad hole would ruin my round. But I was able to harness those feelings and channel them into something positive, to let my competitive spirit help me.

“They way I looked at it, it was time to let it go, and get it in gear.”

As a Mountain Lion, “I had a blast, the time of my life,” he said. “It really helped me to mature into the person I am today. I met a lot of great people, made a lot of friends. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

His teammates in the last four years had a part in his development.

“Concord’s had a great golf program for a long, long time,” he said. “I’ve played with some great players, both from the United States and from other countries ... Sweden, South Africa and Canada. I played with a lot of players who really made me elevate my game.”

Keeping them all together has been head coach Will Johnson, the former Concord basketball great.

“Coach Johnson is a great coach,” Muscari said. “He’ll do anything he can to help us out, at any time. Great guy. It doesn’t get any better than Coach Johnson is what I’d say.”

Muscari made first team all-conference each of the past three years — this spring in the Mountain East and the two previous seasons in the WVIAC. He has been conference golfer of the week once in each league.

In his senior year, he won three events, including being the medalist at the inaugural Mountain East Conference Tournament. Eight times, he finished in the top 10 of his tournaments.

As a team, Concord won the MEC regular season and qualified for the fourth straight year for the NCAA Super Regional, held in Charleston last week.

The previous year, Muscari was in the top five in seven of nine events, winning two. He earned the top spot at the WVIAC Central Regional Championship with a nine-under final score.

In both his sophomore and junior years, his scoring average was best on the team, and he was named to the Ping All-Atlantic Region team in the postseason.

He said the Fighting Joe Course at The Shoals, where he played in the NCAA national tournament in May 2011, was one of his most memorable venues. The site, in Muscle Shoals, Ala., is part of the renowned Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

“I’ve played in some good ones at Concord,” he said. “It (the Fighting Joe Course) stretched 8,100 yards. It was a really tough golf course, really fun golf course.”

Last Wednesday, his college career ended suddenly at the NCAA Super Regional at Edgewood Country Club. He shot a 70 on the first day, followed by a par round of 71 and a final-day 73.

He was one stroke short of qualifying for this year’s national tournament as an individual.

“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “I was in the fourth or fifth group off that Wednesday, and the kid who beat me by one was in the very last group. I waited almost 6 hours for him to finish.

“It was so close, they had told me to get ready to go back out. I was standing on the range, getting ready for a playoff, and they came and told me.

“It was very tough, but I’ve got a lot more golf ahead of me and it was a small bump in the road as far as I feel.”

He is moving forward, with the assistance of Doug Weaver, his new golf instructor. Weaver, who grew up in Madison, played high school golf with Muscari’s father. Weaver now works at Palmetto Dunes at Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

“He gave me a swing change to work on right before the spring semester,” Muscari said. “My scoring average from fall to spring fell from 75.3 to 71.6.”

“We’ve been molding it, molding it and molding it,” he said about his swing. “We’ve finally got it to what we want, and I’m hitting it great. ... He has really taken my game to another level.”

At Concord, Muscari is also known for his high academic average, and being named last year as a Cleveland Golf-Srixon All-American Scholar.

He said about his approach to his college work, “It’s a student-athlete for a reason. Student comes first; it’s not an athlete-student. I have always told people, education is the most important thing. Athletics is that extra fun thing I get to do.

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to keep my grades up and achieve those accomplishments.”

Muscari will likely graduate from Concord in December with a degree in business management, but he said his “overall plans never really changed, to get into medical school.”

He is leaning toward enrolling at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, and may wind up an orthopedic surgeon. He added, “My plan is to stay in southern West Virginia.”

On the other hand, his parents are still interested in him becoming a golf pro, he said.

“If I could fine-tune my program up a little more, that might be a thought,” he said.

The love of his sport is obviously still there.

“I’m going to try to continue to do competitive golfing, just probably not when I’m in medical school,” he said. “I’ve put too much time and work into it to throw it out the window now.”

— E-mail: tbone@bdtonline.com and follow on Twitter @BDTBone

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