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Till Duty is Done UConn Golf Tournament Final Round (photo by Stephen Slade)
Dave Pezzino moves into his 10th year as the head coach of the UConn men’s golf program, coming off the finest overall season of his tenure with the Huskies. Besides capturing two tournament titles in the same year for the first time under Pezzino, the 2015-16 Huskies registered seven Top 10 finishes in 11 events. At the end of the season, the Huskies were named New England Division I Team of the Year and Pezzino was honored as New England Division I Coach of the Year.
Pezzino, who took over the UConn program on Aug. 24, 2007, coached one all-conference player in 2015-16, two All-Northeast region picks, three All-New England picks, and five players who were named to the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team. The Huskies won the season-opening Hartford Hawks Invitational, topping a field of 20, and their own Til Duty Is Done Collegiate Invitational, with a field of 13. In addition, UConn was the runner-up in both the Mountaineer Intercollegiate and the FAU Slomin Autism Championship. The two titles were the sixth and seventh of Pezzino’s UConn career.
Individually, he guided junior Eric Dietrich to medalist honors in The Til Duty Is Done Collegiate Invitational, becoming the sixth UConn player to win a tourney under Pezzino. The players in 2015-16 recorded a total of 17 individual Top 10 finishes.
The Pezzino Era at UConn has been marked by a significant upgrade to the competition schedule, especially with the beginning of the American Athletic Conference three years ago, which joined UConn and former Big East members Cincinnati and USF with the strong golf programs at UCF, Houston, Memphis, SMU, and Temple. Starting with the 2014-15 season, solid programs at East Carolina and Tulsa were added to the AAC lineup.
“The quality of the golf in our league is really strong,” Pezzino said. “We have a lot of national qualifiers team-wise. The depth of the league is so good --- it’s going to help with recruiting and with our scheduling. I have tried to challenge our team with the schedule and I think it has really paid off for us. By playing tough competition and great layouts, our squad learns how to compete and, more importantly, learns how to win.”
Under Pezzino, UConn has had 37 players named Conference Academic All-Stars (24 Big East, 13 American Athletic), three Big East and one American All-Conference picks, nine All-Northeast Region selections, eight All-New England picks, and a New England All-Rookie Team selection.
Pezzino also guided the Huskies to an outstanding season in 2014-15, as the team had Top 10 finishes in eight of the 10 regular-season tournaments, five of them in the Top 5. The season was highlighted by a second consecutive victory in UConn’s own Connecticut Cup, second-place finishes in both the FAU Slomin Autism Championship and the Til Duty Is Done Collegiate Invitational, and third-place finishes in both the Hartford Hawks Invitational and the Quechee Club Collegiate Challenge.
Just as importantly, the 2014-15 team was honored by the Golf Coaches Association of America as an All-Academic Team, one of only 90 Division I teams, and one of only two in the American Athletic Conference, to earn the recognition. For nine consecutive years, the Huskies had received an Academic Rate Public Recognition Award from the NCAA, given each year to teams with APRs in the top 10 percent of their respective sports.
Pezzino’s 2013-14 squad had an excellent season, recording Top 10 finishes in all 11 of its regular-season tournaments, six of them in the Top 5, including a team title in The Connecticut Cup. In 2012-13, Pezzino nutured a young squad to nine Top 10 finishes in 12 tournaments, four of them in the Top 5, including a team title in the New England D-I Championships.
The fall of 2009 saw the Huskies capture the New England Championship, the first title under Pezzino. Jeb Buchanan also became the first individual medalist under Coach Pezzino when he won the Adams Cup of Newport by shooting three successive scores of 69. He was also named the Golfweek Magazine National Player of the Week. UConn finished sixth in the team competition against a standout field at the Adams Cup, despite having only four players for the final two rounds due to injury.
In the Fall of 2011, Pezzino and the Huskies captured another tournament title, winning the Hartford Hawks Invitational by eight strokes as Buchanan won individual medalist honors. That victory was the start of an outstanding three-tourney stretch that saw the Huskies finish third at The Connecticut Cup and second at The Classic at Shelter Harbor.
Pezzino came to UConn after spending one year as an assistant coach at the University of Illinois and 11 previous seasons as a head coach at the collegiate level. Pezzino spent seven years, from August of 1999 to May of 2006, at Florida International as the head coach of the women’s golf program. He led FIU to four tournament victories and 10 individual titles during his tenure and coached 10 All-Sun Belt Conference selections, including 2001 NGCA All-American Michelle Simpson. He had three student-athletes earn Academic All-American recognition and five former team members that are currently playing professionally.
During his time at Florida International, Pezzino also worked at the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Golf Resort, one of the premier golf teaching facilities in the world. He earned the status of master instructor, one of few instructors in the country to reach that level for McLean.
Pezzino played his collegiate golf at St. Thomas University in Miami, where he became a student-head coach during his senior year of 1996-97. Upon graduation, he continued to serve as the head men’s coach at St. Thomas until August, 1999. He led St. Thomas to consecutive NAIA National Championship appearances in 1998 and 1999, and was named Florida Sun Conference Coach of the Year in ’98, leading the squad to the conference title. He coached six individuals to all-conference honors during his tenure.
Pezzino has worked with three of Golf Digest’s Top 100 Instructors, and six of his former student-athletes are golf professionals on various tours.
Pezzino was born on 3/22/72 in North Haven, Conn. He attended Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, N.J., while living in Mahwah, N.J. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sports administration from St. Thomas in 1997.
Dave and his wife, Kristy, were married in 1998. They are the parents of two sets of twins: Joseph and Matthew, born 2/26/04, and Daniel and Kaitlin, born 4/23/09.