Island golfer named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week
Seven is Andrew Fiorenzano’s favorite hole at the Jamestown Golf Course. And although he didn’t learn to play golf there, it is where he and his father bonded over the sport. Now, years later, that bonding has helped Fiorenzano to be named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week.
Fiorenzano, a true freshman at the University of Rhode Island, shared the Atlantic 10 Conference distinction with Graham Lawyer from George Washington University. Both golfers finished 29th in a field of nearly 100 collegiate golfers at the Navy Spring Invitational, which was held on April 16-17.
“To be honest,” Fiorenzano said about the honor, “it was a surprise because I didn’t play as well as I would have liked to.” After reflecting for a moment, he added, “It’s definitely exciting, you feel like you are not just one of the many. It’s the extra motivation to do well because you know that you are going to be recognized. It’s definitely pretty cool.” After further mulling the meaning of the award, Fiorenzano reasoned that he earned the Rookie of the Week honor because an earlier win at Yale “may have put me on the radar” and his play for the week “beat out the other freshman.”
Whatever the reason, Fiorenzano is a very bright spot in a season that has resulted in just two wins since the URI golfers took to the tees in September.
Fiorenzano described the Navy course as “old style” but noted that the first round was played in a virtual “monsoon with 40 mph wind gusts.”
Nearing the end of his first season at URI, Fiorenzano is the only Ram to finish first in a match this season. He did that with an even par performance for both rounds at the Yale Invitational Tournament, which was held on April 2 in New Haven, Conn. The second round was marred by high winds there too, and scores above 80 were common at the tournament.
Fiorenzano said that his training, as one might expect, involves playing a lot of golf. On top of that Fiorenzano practices chipping, putting, striking the ball and “swing thought.”
He explained that a golf swing is quite complex. “Swing thought is thinking of one simplifi ed move or thought that carries through so that you don’t think of too much when you are swinging,” he said. “You have one key point that you are conscious of.”
Fiorenzano said that his swing thought is often “on the plain and the path of the takeaway,” which, he explains, is the motion of tak- ing the club away from the ball before you strike it. He added, “It helps to set up a proper backswing.”
Scott Spence, a teaching pro from Minnesota with some PGA Tour experience, has been an important mentor for Fiorenzano. “He helped me develop my own confidence and learn how to approach tournaments,” Fiorenzano said. “The mental side of it.”
After recognizing his own tendency of putting too much pressure on himself to develop the perfect swing, Fiorenzano warns young golfers to beware of emulating the readily accessible pros. “Develop your own style and your own game. You will be much more successful early on and you will definitely have more fun if you just accept how you swing the club naturally.”
Growing up in Cranston, Fiorenzano first learned about the links in Jamestown after his father moved here. He described golf with his father and his twin sister at the Jamestown course as the place “where golf became something to look forward to.”
Nowadays, Fiorenzano looks forward to golf, in part, because his star continues to rise. At the Wheeler School, Fiorenzano was a four-time recipient of the coach’s award and was the conference champion in both his sophomore and junior years. He lost by one stroke in his senior year.
“I started [playing golf] as a young kid for something to do in the summers for recreation,” he said. “I played with kids my age and then started playing competitively.” Fiorenzano added that it wasn’t long before he started with the United States Challenge Cup Junior Golf Foundation. The Challenge Cup, as it is often known, fosters connections between current, teaching and tour pros, and the next generation of players. Fiorenzano said that his success in Challenge Cup events got him noticed by college golf coaches.
College choices were based on “a pretty narrow search relative to most people because I was pretty certain that I wanted to play golf.” Crediting URI head golf coach Tom Drennan as a significant reason for choosing the school, Fiorenzano described Drennan as “such an established figure in college golf.” Fiorenzano added, “I guess that you could say that I pretty much always wanted to come to URI.”
The Atlantic 10 Championship is next up for Fiorenzano and the Rams. Their record requires winning the conference championship in order to advance to the NCAA Tournament, a feat that Fiorenzano described as a “tall order” given that perennial A-10 golf powerhouse UNC-Charlotte stands in their way. The A-10 Championship begins tomorrow — Friday, April 28 — in Florida.
When he isn’t striking the golf ball or hitting the books, Fiorenzano plays pick-up basketball with his friends. Included in his summer plans is getting his motorcycle license.
Likely to become an environmental science major, Fiorenzano said that he is more likely to pursue the amateur circuit following his college career. He said that his goal is to become the best amateur in the state.