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131001 University of Pennsylvania - Men's & Women's Golf Practice at Phila. Crickett Credit: Hunter Martin , Hunter Martin

When senior Austin Powell steps onto the golf course, approaches the first tee box and looks out on the fairway, he believes his potential is limitless.

“Any tournament I play in, I can win,” he said.

Despite this confident attitude, Powell is quick to clarify that winning, in his mind, is never an expectation but rather a possibility if he plays his best.

And his performance on March 14 and 15 at the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular hosted by George Mason proved that he knows exactly what he is talking about.

In a field of 103 golfers from talented programs across the country, Powell claimed the top spot to win Individual Medalist honors. Going into the final round, Powell found himself two strokes behind the leader, but he was able to make up ground and ultimately notch his first-place finish.

With a score of 6-under par (72-69-69), Powell was the only Penn golfer to place in the field’s top 10, and one of two, along with freshman Amay Poria, to place in the top 40. As a team, the Quakers finished eighth out of 18 teams.

The tournament — the Red and Blue’s first of the spring — took place in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., at the challenging El Campeon course, something that made Powell’s victory all the more impressive.

“It’s a tough golf course,” coach Bob Heintz said. “It is very narrow, and it was a little windy, so it is easy to get in trouble.”

Despite the difficult conditions and some ups and downs throughout the tournament, Powell’s confidence and mental toughness proved to be beneficial down the stretch.

“Even in my final rounds where I played well, there were definitely some times when I had to dig deep.”

And when it mattered most, he was able to keep his poise and come up with big shots.

“His iron play was better than anyone else’s in that tournament,” Heintz said. “Not just our team, but anyone else I saw playing that week.”

However, this impressive combination of mental toughness and skill hasn’t always come easily to Powell.

In his junior season, Powell had limited success and finished tied for 35th at the Ivy Championships — a respectable performance but not exactly in line with what he had hoped.

Nevertheless, Powell refused to let that keep him down, committing to refining his stroke and improving his physical fitness in the offseason in preparation for his senior campaign.

His hard work did not go unnoticed, as many of his teammates looked up to him and sought to replicate their captain’s actions.

“He is our leader by example,” Heintz said. “His teammates have responded, and this team is working harder than it used to.”

When the pieces began to fall into place for Powell this year, all his hard work made his recent victory even sweeter.

“The best part about it is that it validated all the hard work I put in this offseason, “ Powell said. “It was cool to see it pay off that quickly.”

Heintz echoed Powell’s sentiments, and praised the senior captain’s work ethic and commitment.

“Certainly, his junior year was disappointing for him,” he said. “I am just proud that he went back to work over the summer, and it’s paying off with some really good results.

“This is a big win for him personally against some very fine players from the ACC.”

As for the rest of the season, Powell naturally would like to continue to win tournaments — maybe even an Individual Ivy Championship — but it’s clear that it’s not his main focus.

“I want to be content with how I play every round for the rest of the way,” he said. “Even if that means I play my best and finish fifth. I want to leave knowing I laid it all out on the line.”

It’s safe to say that his teammates and coaches believe he will do nothing less.

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