The Virginia Men’s Golf Team emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the 2022-2023 season, with several records set and many firsts. The Cavaliers made their first move at the Streamsong Invitational, the 2022 season opener in September, by shooting a school-low 56-under to secure a victory. The team was led by Ben James, who, in his collegiate debut, posted a bogey-free 20-under, breaking the UVA school record for the best three-round tournament score. Soon after the Streamsong win, Golfweek had Virginia men’s golf ranked as the top program in the country for the first time in its history.
In October, the Cavaliers were crowned the defending champions of the Hamptons Intercollegiate, shooting 3-over. By defeating runner-up Yale by an astonishing 35 strokes, the Virginia golfers achieved the greatest margin of victory in a tournament in team history. Also, five Cavaliers posted top-10 finishes at the tournament: James finished first at 5-under, Deven Patel tied for second at 4-over, Pietro Bovari finished fifth at 5-over, and George Duangmanee and Chris Fosdick tied for seventh at 8-over.
Virginia maintained its strong performance in the spring at the Wake Forest Invitational. The team finished third at 22-over. In his first year as a Cavalier, Bryan Lee tied individually for second place at even par with James, making it his best collegiate tournament finish. At the General Hackler Championship, UVA placed second at 18-under, with James sharing individual medalist honors at 13-under. In April, Virginia competed at the ACC Championships; the team tied for third place in stroke play and advanced to the match play portion for the first time. During their semifinal match, Virginia lost to Wake Forest.
The Cavaliers continued to shatter records at the NCAA Las Vegas Regional. In the first round of the competition, Lee shot his best collegiate score, 7-under. The team finished third at 49-under, which was their best-ever performance at a regional competition. For the first time since 2015, Virginia men’s golf advanced to the NCAA Championships. To no surprise, James shared medalist honors at 20-under, becoming the first Cavalier to win an NCAA Regional.
To culminate the season, Virginia battled through stroke play at the NCAA Championships. The team finished in 7th place at 11-over; the top 8 teams advanced to match play. In Virginia’s first NCAA match play appearance, the team suffered a close loss to Florida during the quarterfinal round.
The recent season was undoubtedly Virginia Men’s Golf’s best. The most notable player, Ben James, put a spotlight on the team. In his first year, James accumulated several accolades, including the 2023 Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award, first-team Ping All-American, ACC Freshman of the Year, Haskins Award finalist, and Jack Nicklaus Award finalist. Furthermore, James and Virginia Women’s Golf’s Amanda Sambach helped Team USA win the 2023 Arnold Palmer Cup. James, along with two newcomers to the Virginia roster, Josh Duangmanee and Paul Chang, qualified for the prestigious August US Amateur Championship. Josh Duangmanee, a 6A Virginia state champion from Fairfax High School, comes to UVA as the top-ranked junior golfer in Virginia for the class of 2023. Chang is a third-year who previously competed on the UVA club golf team and holds a National Collegiate Club Golf Association ranking of 10, with a scoring average of 72.8. All three Cavaliers advanced to match play, and James and Chang advanced to the Round of 16. Chang fell short on the 19th hole of the round and was eliminated; however, he gained significant recognition as a UVA walk-on recruit after an amazing eagle hole out. Only James would advance to the quarterfinals, but he was eliminated on the 19th hole by Florida’s Parker Bell.
Following the US Amateur Championship, James was named to the United States Golf Association Walker Cup team. The USA Team competed against Great Britain and England on September 2-3 and took the trophy with 14.5 points and 11.5 points, respectively. James and Tennessee’s Caleb Surratt earned a point in the Sunday foursome match, securing a 2-up victory with one hole to play.
Accompanying Chang and Duangmanee are two more new golfers to the Virginia roster: Sam O’Hara from Connecticut and Henry Daly from England. O’Hara was named a 2022 Rolex Scholastic Junior All-American and was a 2016 Drive, Chip & Putt finalist. Daly is a second-year transfer from Rice and holds a 70.91 scoring average. The strength of Virginia’s current team, along with their recent additions, suggests a very promising 2023–2024 season.