Pontus Nyholm did the unexpected as a freshman at Campbell University and qualified individually for the NCAA Championship, becoming only the second Camel in the program’s history to play on golf’s biggest stage.
“It was such a cool experience and such a great start to my college career,” said Nyholm, who grew up in the small town of Gavle, Sweden. “But I remember when I was there in Oklahoma, all I could think about was how much fun it would be if my team was there with me.”
They’ll get that chance this month at the NCAA Regionals in Noblesville, Indiana. And Nyholm, the 2021 Big South Conference Golfer of the Year and one of 36 players in the world named to the 2021 Arnold Palmer Cup, will now be looked at as the senior leader who can get them to the next level.
“I’m excited,” he said. “This is always the most fun part of the season — going to regionals with your team and taking it all in. We have such a great team this year … I think if we put together three good rounds, we have a legitimate chance.”
But before his team takes on the Sagamore Club on May 17, Nyholm will walk a different green when he receives his degree in business administration at Campbell’s spring commencement in Barker-Lane Stadium on Saturday.
He chose Campbell while playing for the Swedish National Team in high school after being recruited during a tournament in Arizona by former Campbell assistant men’s golf coach Weston Eklund. Nyholm also went to the same high school as Jesper Svensson, a two-time Big South Golfer of the Year with Campbell.
“Jesper told me that Campbell was a great school with a great golf program,” Nyholm said. “And I really liked Coach Weston, Coach [John] Crooks and the things they told me about the program. It got me really excited to be a Camel.”
Nyholm said he liked that Campbell was located in a small town, which reminded him of Gavle. He liked how everything was on a “personal level,” and that he was a name, rather than a number. He’s also a fan of North Carolina weather, which is much warmer than Sweden in the winters.
Nyholm’s golf career at Campbell has been nothing short of spectacular. He owns the lowest career stroke average (71.08) in school history along with a program-record 21 top-10 individual finishes. He has already played nine NCAA post-season rounds and has been among the top 15 individuals in all seven tournaments he has played this season (including first-place finishes in three of them).
Nyholm — rated as high as No. 13 by Golfstat, No. 15 in the PGA TOUR University and No. 46 in World Amateur Golf Rankings — has earned a sponsor’s exemption to the Korn Ferry Tour Rex Hospital Open in June.
“Pontus being selected to be a member of the Arnold Palmer Cup’s International team is one of the highest honors awarded to college golfers,” said Crooks. “He is a great player and he has had a great year. I am proud to have Pontus represent Campbell University and I am sure Sweden is honored as well.”