Originally created 11/19/96

Last pair of unprecedented five area prep golf stars to sign college grants



John Engler and Scott Volpitto signed national letters of intent on Monday, closing the book on the most intense period of recruitment of a group of golfers in area history.

Richmond Academy's Engler signed with Clemson and Westside's Volpitto signed with Texas Christian University of Fort Worth, Texas.

Engler and Volpitto were the final two of five area golfers to sign with schools that have NCAA Division I golf programs.

Last week, Charles Howell of Westminster, the nation's No. 1-ranked junior, signed with Oklahoma State and Eric Ledford of Jackson, S.C., signed with the University of South Carolina. Richmond Academy's Brian Scurlock announced last week he would sign with Furman and made it official on Monday.

Former Augustan Will Snellings of Ridgefield, Conn., says he will sign with the University of North Carolina today.

The left-handed Engler is the nation's No. 3-ranked junior golfer by GolfWeek magazine and a first-team American Junior Golf Association All-American. Volpitto, ranked 45th by GolfWeek, has won the last three Georgia State Golf Association Junior Championships and was a second team AJGA All-American selection.

Clemson had an advantage in signing Engler based on the fact he said all along he wanted to attend a college within easy driving distance of Augusta.

Engler also wanted to be close enough to drive to Sea Island, Ga., where his teacher, Mike Cook, is based.

The fact that Clemson is nationally-ranked in golf virtually every year (the Tigers are currently 12th) sealed the deal.

"I've always wanted to win a national championship," Engler said. "We won the state championship here (in Engler's freshman year) in high school and I want to win a national championship equally as bad. I think I can go on to the next level with this team."

While Howell is going to powerful Oklahoma State (eight national championships and currently ranked No. 2 in the country), Volpitto is headed for a school on the rise.

Texas Christian has never challenged for an NCAA Championship, but the Horned Frogs are currently ranked No. 4 in the country. In five fall season tournaments, Texas Christian won one tournament and finished in the top five in three others.

Volpitto said he picked Texas Christian over the University of Georgia because the Horned Frogs "have a better golf program right now. TCU is better for me. They play in the best tournaments out there against the best teams. They have unbelievable practice facilities."

"We're very excited to sign Scott," said Texas Christian coach Bill Montigel in a telephone interview from Fort Worth. "He's got a great golf swing and has all the attributes I was looking for. We're losing two seniors after this season and he's the kind of guy who can come in and give us immediate help."

One of Texas Christian's "home courses" is the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, site of the PGA Tour's Colonial Invitation. The course is nicknamed "Hogan's Alley" because Fort Worth native Ben Hogan won the Colonial Invitation five times.

Engler will be the second area golfer on the Clemson team. Aiken's Brennen King is a redshirt freshman this year with the Tigers.

Clemson loses only one player, three-time All-American Richard Couglan, to graduation after this season.

"I think John will step right in Richard's shoes and be a great player for us," Clemson coach Larry Penley said by telephone. "The exciting thing about John is he's only going to get better. I think you'll see him become a world-class player."