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Till Duty is Done UConn Golf Tournament Final Round (photo by Stephen Slade)
As men’s golf coach Dave Pezzino enters his 12th season at the helm of the program, he has left himself a tough act to follow --- again.
Two years ago in 2015-16, all Pezzino did was guide the Huskies to the finest season of his tenure up to that point with two tournament victories in the same season for the first time, seven Top 10 finishes in 11 events, and honors as New England Division I Team and Coach of the Year.
So, what did he do for an encore in 2016-17? Simply take the Huskies to three tournament wins and eight finishes in the Top 5 in 11 events. He had two players selected All-Conference, three selected All-New England, and two picked All-Northeast Region. In addition, the Huskies picked up their annual array of academic awards, with six players named to the American Conference All-Academic Team, and the team earning a 12th consecutive NCAA Public Recognition Award (given each year to teams with an APR in the top 10 percent of their respective sports), as well as status as a Golf Coaches Association of America All-Academic Team. The three tourney victories – at the Loyola Intercollegiate, the Lafayette Collegiate Invitational, and UConn’s own VGA/UConn Collegiate Invitational -- hiked Pezzino’s total to 10 at UConn.
Individually, sophomore Jimmy Hervol became the seventh UConn player under Pezzino to win a tournament when he captured the season-opening Doc Gimmler Invitational. The Huskies combined for 18 individual Top 10 finishes.
Such has been the case during Pezzino’s decade at UConn, with the program showing solid and steady growth both athletically and academically, as well as experiencing a significant upgrade in the level of competition and the quality of courses played throughout the country. In 2017-18, UConn will take another step forward, competing in the Ka’anapali Classic in Hawaii and in the prestigious Clemson Invitational.
“I have tried to challenge our team with the schedule and I think it has really paid off for us,” Pezzino said. “By playing tough competition and great layouts, our squad learns how to compete and, more importantly, learns how to win.”
Under Pezzino, who took over the program on Aug. 24, 2007, UConn has had 43 players named Conference Academic All-Stars (24 Big East, 19 American Athletic), three Big East and three American All-Conference picks, 11 All-Northeast Region selections, 11 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.
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 eight 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.