BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- University of Alabama Birmingham junior Martin Rohwer is preparing to make his second trip to the NCAA Championships as a member of the Blazers lineup. For Rohwer, golf has always been a part of his life.
"I started playing probably when I was about five or six years old," Rohwer said. "I used to go to the driving range with my dad. He played a bit of golf and there was a par-three course there so we would go out and play. It just snowballed from there. I started playing tournaments and then obviously kept playing into college."
A native of Natal, South Africa, Rohwer was recruited by former UAB head coach Alan Kaufman, who retired after the 2012-13 season. It was just by chance that Kaufman learned about the budding golfer, but it didn't take long for Rohwer to feel like UAB would be the place for him.
"There was a guy who tried out for the team and coach Kaufman asked him if there were any other guys from South Africa that would want to come to America and play college golf so he mentioned my name," Rohwer remarked. "Then coach Kaufman and I kept speaking and eventually I came on a visit. I liked the courses and whole program here so I committed."
Now about to finish his third season, Rohwer feels that he is really coming into his own. After appearing in seven tournaments as a freshman in 2012-13, he worked hard to move into the lineup as a sophomore among a veteran squad last season.
An All-Conference USA Second Team selection as a sophomore, Rohwer competed in 12 of the 13 tournaments and ranked second on the team in stroke average (72.3), percentage of rounds counted (87), rounds at or under par (16) and scoring differential (3.11). He finished in the top-10 in 10 tournaments with two runner-up finishes.
"I felt like I played well last year, I improved quite a lot from my freshman year to sophomore year," Rohwer said. "Obviously I wanted to improve more, I think everyone wants to keep getting better. One of my biggest goals coming into this season was to win more tournaments. I finished second twice last year so I wanted to win a tournament individually."
This season he has picked up right where he left off, competing in all 35 rounds and ranking second on the team with a 72.14 stroke average. After four top-10 finishes, he earned All-C-USA First Team honors and leads the team with 16 round at or under par and percentage of rounds counted (87).
Just a week ago at the NCAA Bremerton Regional, Rohwer propelled UAB to its first regional title after posting a career-low and course record 64 (-8) in the final round. He finished the tournament tied for second with a season-best 207, which included 19 birdies over the three rounds.
It is not just about the individual accomplishments though, as Rohwer is a large part of the success of a UAB program that will make its third NCAA Championship appearance in four years.
"It feels good just to be on a winning team," Rohwer remarked. "Last year it was a lot of fun too, because we were in contention at a lot of tournaments. This year was especially fun because we were actually winning, where as last year we were just coming in second. These last two years, it has been fun being on a team where everyone is a good player so you have a chance to win almost each event you compete in."
This week, Rohwer will be one of the veterans leading the Blazers at the 2015 NCAA Championships in Bradenton, Fla. He has been there once and knows that this is an opportunity to make history with the team as well as compete among some of the top golfers in the country.
"It is always exciting to go to nationals because all the best players will be there," Rohwer said. "It is a chance to test my game and see where I end up among the best field in college golf. Also, just competing with a team for the national championship is something that I look forward to."