DADE CITY, Fla. – T.J. Mitchell only has team play on his mind.
The junior Georgia Bulldog is playing his third season with the team and has dealt with the transition from an experienced club to a young one with a high ceiling.
Georgia was a top team in the country last year, finishing second in the NCAA championship tournament, but lost its three best starters.
Mitchell was No. 4 on that roster, and now is the team leader on a group he feels has a lot more potential than the Bulldog team of 2010.
“I guess we had three stars last year, but the depth of our line-ups really wasn’t as deep as it is this year,” Mitchell said.
He thinks that the competitive level wasn’t there before in recent years and that it’s going to be the drive to push them to better golf.
“We don’t really have the star three but we have depth in our line-up,” Mitchell said. “So it’s competition each week on who’s going to come, because everyone’s working hard and we got some guys playing really well.”
Mitchell was voted in as captain by his teammates and relishes the added pressure that comes with the new responsibilities.
“Everybody voted [for] me at the retreat in North Carolina, in the middle of August last summer,” Mitchell said. “Yeah it’s more pressure but it’s a good pressure because your team’s relying on you in certain situations.”
He feels that he’s in the right position to help the new guys be ready to take the next step.
“I had to step it up, I haven’t had the greatest years, but I’ve improved every year to lead these guys in the right direction.”
The goals of the captain are clear, to win a team title and to help improve the play of his teammates.
“To me a team title is a lot more than an individual title,” Mitchell said. “I’m a role model for some of the younger guys, I lead them by example and I push them to be better.”
The junior captain was disappointed with the results of the USF Invitational this week, but feels good about how his team performed overall.
“This is a good tournament for us, this is our top five on paper and looks like we played pretty well, we finished second this week which is disappointing but all in all we’re playing well.”
Mitchell has been uncertain about his future in golf but hopes that time will tell he can lead this new team to success.
“I have goals playing in the next level but I kind of had some doubt in myself coming into the tournament,” Mitchell said. “Lately I’ve been thinking about that because I only have a year and a half left.
“I’m going to let the next year and a half determine how far I want to make it, but I showed myself I can play.”
Mitchell added that he is excited about the new transfer, Joey Garber, who finished 1-under par for the USF Invitational.
“I played against [Joey] Garber when he was at Michigan and he’s a great addition to the team,” Mitchell said. “He’s a great golfer, a great competitor, always out there grinding, he’s going to help us out a lot.”
Freshman Nick Reach had a strong final two days scoring 2-under par on each and ending at 1-under par.
Keith Mitchell scored 1-over for the tournament and Brian Carter finished at 4-over.