Kane County will be the center of attention for golfers around the world as Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove hosts the Arnold Palmer Cup this coming summer for the second time in its storied history.
Organizers this week named the coaches for the event, set for June 11 to June 13, 2021.
Greg Sands of Texas Tech and Kim Lewellen of Wake Forest will lead the United States while the International side will be coached by J.C. Deacon of Florida and Canada and Sofie Aagaard of Sweden and Cal Poly at the 2021 Arnold Palmer Cup at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove.
Greg Sands is entering his 20th season leading the Texas Tech golf program and has established himself as one of the top coaches in the country.
His accomplishments include 18 consecutive NCAA regionals and seven NCAA championships berths, a top-10 finish in 2010 and the program’s first two PING All-America First Team honorees in 2006 and 2010, plus a Big 12 Player of the Year and Hogan Award semifinalist in 2018.
He was named the 2019-20 GCAA Central Region Coach of the Year.
Along with 24 team titles and 27 individual tournament wins, those are the most visible of the accomplishments Sands has been responsible for since taking over the program in 2001.
What falls beneath the radar is Sands’ ability to provide his student-athletes with an outstanding education, reflected in the fact that the team consistently ranks among the top academic programs in the Big 12 Conference with nine earning 2019-20 Academic All-Big 12 honors.
Sands led the Red Raiders to three tournament victories during the 2019-20 shortened season with wins at The Carmel Cup, Inverness Intercollegiate, and the Big 12 Match Play Tournament. Tech reached a No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history and finished the season ranked No. 3 by Golfstat and No. 5 by Golfweek.
Along with team success, Sands helped Sandy Scott, Andy Lopez, and Markus Braadlie to individual titles during the year. Scott was named a PING All-American while also earning CoSIDA Academic All-American honors.
In six stroke play events, the Red Raiders finished in the top-4 in five events with a third-place showing at the Southern Highlands Collegiate in the event that would be the final competition before the season was ended due to coronavirus pandemic.
Entering her third season at Wake Forest, Kim Lewellen has seen no shortage of success. Even though her second season was cut short, Lewellen was still able to continue her successful reign leading the Wake Forest women’s golf team.
The team finished the 2019-20 season in March ranked No. 1 in Golfstat and No. 2 in Golfweek.
Their final tournament appearance of the short season was a 26-stroke victory and individual title at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate. They had tallied three individual titles and four team titles before the season was canceled.
She has coached five All-Americans in her first two seasons at Wake Forest.
In her first season in Winston-Salem in 2018-19, she led the Demon Deacons to the best season in program history while earning ACC Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in her career. The 2018-19 season was a memorable one for the Demon Deacons, who won three times, including the 2019 ACC Championship. Wake Forest reached match play at the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history, earning a runner up finish.
The Deacs set the ACC 54-hole team scoring record with a 34-under performance to win the 2019 Bryan National Collegiate by 32 strokes. The team was led by a pair of first-team All-Americans, Jennifer Kupcho and Emilia Migliaccio. Kupcho won the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur and Migliaccio won the 2019 ACC individual title. Lewellen came to Wake Forest after 11 seasons as the head coach at the University of Virginia, where she coached 12 WGCA All-Americans, 18 All-ACC selections, and 11 tournament medalists.
J.C. Deacon will begin his seventh season as the head men’s golf coach at the University of Florida in 2020, coming to Florida after serving as an assistant coach at his alma mater UNLV.
In his time leading the Gators, Deacon has seen no shortage of success. The Gators were trending upwards before the 2019-20 season abruptly ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Following a challenging fall campaign, Florida opened the spring with three-straight top-five finishes. Of those finishes, Deacon’s squad captured the team title at the VyStar Gators Invitational by 18 strokes, giving the Gators their first team win at Mark Bostick Golf Course since 2011.
Deacon oversaw the best one-two combination in the nation with junior John Axelsen and freshman Ricky Castillo. Both players received recognition at the national and league level following their outstanding play.
Castillo was named the 2020 Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award honoree and SEC Freshman of the Year. He also earned a spot on the All-SEC First Team, NCAA Division I PING All-America First Team and appeared on the Ben Hogan Award Final Watch List. Alongside Castillo, Axelsen also earned First Team All-American and All-SEC First Team honors.
Aagaard, was named head coach of the Cal Poly women’s golf team in July 2015.
Last year’s campaign, cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, included first-place finishes at the Battle at Old Works and Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate in addition to one third-place finish and a pair of fourths.
Caroline Cantlay was the team’s top scorer, averaging 75.1 strokes per round, and Vanessa Wang was right behind at 75.2. Cantlay set a new Cal Poly single-round record of 65 at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational and the team set a new 18-hole record of 277 in the second round of that event.
In her first season as head coach of the Mustangs, Aagaard guided the squad to a second-place finish in the Big West Conference Championship. Cal Poly led after the first two rounds of play.
Aagaard was named Big West Coach of the Year by her peers and Madison Hirsch earned second-team All-Big West honors.
Steady improvement the next season (2016-17) produced four tournament wins, including Cal Poly’s first Big West team championship in women’s golf and an appearance in the NCAA Albuquerque Regional. Sophie Bergland was named to the All-Big West first team while Jamie Binns and Desiree Gillaspy landed on the second team.
Aagaard was honored as conference coach of the year for the second straight season. Aagaard was also an assistant coach at California for three seasons prior to Cal Poly.
About Arnold Palmer Cup
The Arnold Palmer Cup was co-founded by Arnold Palmer and The Golf Coaches Association of America and began in 1997 at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, FL.
The event is a Ryder Cup-style tournament featuring the top men’s and women’s university/college golfers matching the United States against a team of International players. The Arnold Palmer Cup has been played at some of the world’s greatest courses including The Old Course, The Royal County Down, Royal Portrush, Baltusrol, The Honors Course, and Cherry Hills.
The 2018 matches at Evian Resort Golf Club became the only major tournament which features men and women playing side-by-side as partners.
Since its inception, over 100 former Arnold Palmer Cup alumni have gone on to earn cards on either the PGA Tour, European Tour or LPGA, 29 have represented Europe or the USA in the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, and more than 60 have claimed over 250 victories on the PGA or European Tours. The United States leads the series 12-10-1.
The Arnold Palmer Cup is supported by Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation. The Arnold Palmer Cup provides a platform for perpetuating Arnold Palmer’s commitment to youth development and the growth of amateur/collegiate golf. For more information, please visit ArnoldPalmerCup.com.