DADE CITY, Fla . – Russell Budd has blue in his blood.
Not only is he a member of the DePaul Blue Demons golf team, he also aligns himself with one of the largest sport fan bases – The Toronto Maple Leafs.
Budd, the 21-year-old Toronto native, is no stranger to expressing his despise for the team’s current slide via Twitter (@rusdibudd). Hash tags such as #firewilson, #leafssuck and #randycarlyle have been the reoccurring themes recently.
But evidently, he’s content about the new coaching makeup, one that saw Ron Wilson shipped out in favour of Randy Carlyle.
“I’m happy, something needed to change,” Budd said during Tuesday afternoon minutes after competing in his final round at the University of South Florida Invitational. “Better now than never”.
When he’s not mourning over the hometown squad, Budd is hitting the links with the Blue Demons. Entering his third year, the young golfer has many triumphs, including a fourth place finish at the Cardinal Collegiate invitational where he recorded a hole-in-one on the eighth hole.
He also added a top-25 finish with a tie for ninth at the John Dallio Memorial in the 2009-10 season.
However, Budd’s most recent outing wasn’t as memorable. At the Lake Jovita course he ended his three-day event a disappointing 15-over, never registering one birdie. DePaul finished 14th overall – a collective 44-over – two spots ahead of rivals Marquette (73-over). Fellow Canadian teammate Mark Sanchez didn’t participate at the event.
“Obviously a lot went wrong for me,” Budd lamented. “I was kind of stressed out on the putting end but everything is a learning experience. I still believe I had a lot of positives.”
While the Toronto native’s golf game has fluctuated as of late, his academic pursuits have soared. As a freshman, he earned Big East Academic honours while majoring in management [concentration in sports] and is considered a great student by coaches and teammates.
The bourgeoning student attributes his academic accomplishments to allocating resources correctly.
“I like to think I manage my time well,” Budd said. “That is the name of the game, whenever you have free time you get your work done: on the plane, car, bus it doesn’t matter – you got to get as much as you can get done.”
Even after balancing NCAA academics and demanding schedule of golf, Budd still takes the time out of his busy schedule to watch the Leafs. While living in Chicago, he was privileged to catch a live Maple Leafs-Blackhawks game two weeks ago. The result was not to his liking.
“At their current pace, I think they’ll be joining me here sometime soon,” Budd jokingly referred to Toronto’s lack of playoff appearances over the last eight years. “Hopefully they’ll sneak in the eighth spot.”