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Bonning, Shetty Enjoying Success in the U.S. for UWF Golf Teams

By Danielle Rudd, UWF Sports Information Intern

Combining an athletic career with college studies is the perfect formula for great memories for student-athletes, especially if the location is perfect for the sport. What better place to accomplish both tasks than the state of Florida? Men’s golf team member Otto Bonning and women’s golf team member Bhavna Shetty have taken the opportunity to leave their home countries to perfect their play and studies at the University of West Florida.

Senior Otto Bonning has experienced plenty of success with golf program since he moved here from Skanor, Sweden. “The fact that I can combine golf with school is wonderful because universities back home do not have athletic programs,” said Bonning. “I chose UWF because it seemed like a great fit. The team was currently ranked number one for Division II schools, the location was perfect and coach Steve Fell was great help.”
In Bonning’s first season playing golf for West Florida, he was a member of the 2008 NCAA Division II national championship team. “Winning the championship is my fondest memory,” said Bonning. "I have never been apart of a team that had so much potential." In 2008 the team also won the GSC Championship and the NCAA Division II South Region championship.
Bonning has not only reaped the benefits of being on a successful team, but so has Bhavna Shetty. The women's golf team has won the GSC championship the past five years, four of which Shetty has been on the team. “Winning the conference championship the past few years in Arkansas has been a lot of fun,” said Shetty. “It is also the only tournament that we get to travel with the men’s golf team and cheer them on too.”

Shetty left her hometown Mysore, India to play for UWF starting in 2006 when she first redshirted. “Coming to play for a team in the United States has made me appreciate the people I have met here,” said Shetty. “After working with a team that consisted of players from all over the world I have learned how to deal with each others’ differences, learned how to accept teammates for who they are and where they come from. The diverse culture on the team is the best part.”

Once their college careers are over, both athletes have big plans. Bonning will move back home to Sweden in the search for sponsors and hopes of becoming pro. His main goal is to take part in the Swedish and Danish pro tours and qualify for the European Tour in the fall of 2012. Shetty is continuing her education by receiving her master’s in business administration and plans to possibly try out for the Futures Tour.

Shetty has been a part of many GSC honors including: GSC Player of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010), All-GSC first team (2008, 2010), All-GSC second team (2009), GSC All-Tournament Team (2008, 2009, 2010) and GSC Individual Medalist (2009).

Otto Bonning has been awarded as a member on the All-GSC first team (2010), All-GSC second team (2008, 2009), GSC All-Tournament Team (2010) and GCAA All-South Region Team (2008, 2010).

Both teams are coming off victories in their last tournaments, as the UWF men came out on top in a 14-team field at the Argonaut Invitational on Tuesday, and the UWF women won the Ann Rhoads Invitational hosted by Birmingham-Southern on Monday.  The men will be back in action in Valdosta, Ga. on March 14-15, while the women will next play in Hattiesburg, Miss. on March 21-22.

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