TCU director of intercollegiate athletics Chris Del Conte discusses the hot topics around the Horned Frogs
Bill Montigel has elevated TCU men's golf into a position of national prominence in his 18 years at the helm of the program. Montigel, a six-time conference coach of the year and seven-time conference champion, has guided the Horned Frogs to five consecutive league titles, setting an all-sport school record.
The Horned Frogs' rise in the collegiate golf ranks during his tenure has been well-chronicled. What hasn't been so clear-cut is how Montigel, an individual who started out with limited exposure to this particular college sport, has so successfully pulled off this feat. While Montigel's coaching approach has proven ultra-solid, it was his arrival upon the college golf coaching scene that perhaps raised a smattering of eyebrows.
In 1987, the energetic coach's career took a dramatically-altered path. Prior to being named the Horned Frogs' head men's golf coach, he served eight years as a TCU assistant basketball coach and top recruiter under Jim Killingsworth. Several of Montigel's recruiting gems were key performers on TCU's back-to-back Southwest Conference championship basketball teams. When Killingsworth retired, the TCU administration had to look no further than the men's basketball office to find its next men's golf coach.
As a graduate student at Oklahoma State, it was Montigel's friendship with legendary Cowboys' golf coach Mike Holder that truly kindled his interest in golf. Knowing that he could recruit, organize and motivate, Montigel added some of the valuable lessons he had learned in basketball and effectively applied them toward building and maintaining a top-ranked golf program at TCU.
Through the years, Montigel has carefully recruited top student-athletes to the TCU program. He has improved the Frogs' playing schedule so that it ranks among the most difficult in the country (the 2004-05 schedule ranked 12th) and has fostered stronger relationships with area country clubs and practice complexes. As a result of his committed efforts, TCU has been a mainstay among the nation's top 25 in the national polls for more than a decade and the Frogs have spent nearly every week of the past three seasons ranked among the country's top 10.
Under Montigel, the Frogs have qualified for NCAA Regional play every year since 1990, and have advanced to the NCAA Championships 10 times in the last 15 seasons. It took Montigel just three years to turn a struggling program into a contender at the conference, regional and national levels. Later this year he will face another challenge, taking his talents into the Mountain West Conference, a national powerhouse in golf. He has been able to accomplish the turnaround thanks to a bevy of talented golfers. Montigel has taken top-rated juniors and up-and-comers alike and given them the tools to become standout collegiate golfers. Since he took over the program, Montigel has had eight golfers take home a total of 13 All-American honors. Five of those players--Chad Magee (1990, 1991), Charlie Stevens (1992), Bret Guetz (2002), David Schultz (2003) and Adam Meyer (2004)--were transfers to TCU in search of a positive college golf experience.
In addition, Montigel spotted the talent in a golfer named J.J. Henry, a player who became the school's lone three-time All-American and was the 1998 National Co-Player of the Year. Henry is currently starring on the PGA Tour and has finished among the Tour's top 125 in earnings each of the last four years.
Twenty-two Horned Frogs have been tabbed as all-conference performers a total of 37 times during the Montigel era. Five of those golfers--Alberto Ochoa (1997), Henry (1998), Adam Rubinson (2003), Adam Meyer (2004) and J.J. Killeen (2005)--also earned league player of the year distinction. In addition, Montigel's mantle has become crowded after earning six conference coach of the year awards, including each of the last four in Conference USA.
In his first 14 years on the job, Montigel's teams won nine tournaments, a stout total. However, since the 2000-01 campaign, TCU has been even more dominant, garnering 11 team titles. In addition, the individual victories have also increased, as Horned Frog players have earned medalist honors 11 times since 2001. After all the achievements, there is no doubt that the name TCU is synonymous with success in college golf.
Ranked among the top-12 throughout the year, his 2004-05 squad kicked into high gear in the spring semester, claiming the team's first victory of the season against a top-notch field at the National Invitational Tournament in late March. Just three weeks later, the Horned Frogs put an exclamation point on their school-record fifth straight league title, pummeling the competition en route to a 26-stroke victory at the Conference USA Championships. The Horned Frogs held down the top four individual spots and secured the largest margin of victory in the program's history. In addition, Montigel was named Conference USA Coach of the Year for the fourth straight time, and the Horned Frogs placed three members on the all-conference first team for the third straight season. In 2003-04, TCU spent the entire season rated among the country's top 10 and finished the campaign ranked 10th according to the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings system. After a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Central Regional, the Horned Frogs tied for 20th at the NCAA Championships. Following the season, Meyer, the C-USA Player of the Year, was tabbed as a third-team All-American.
The 2002-03 Frogs matched a school record with three team victories, including the Conference USA crown, and finished the fall season rated fourth in the Golfweek poll. The Horned Frogs narrowly missed the NCAA Championships, but had a pair of All-Americans, Rubinson, a third-teammer, and Schultz, an honorable mention performer.
After several strong early-season showings in 2001-02, the Frogs, who were 29th in the preseason rankings, vaulted into the top 10, a place they would remain for the rest of the season. In early May, the NCAA selection committee chose TCU as the number one seed in the Central Region. It was the school's first-ever top billing in a regional. TCU landed in a tie for 11th at the NCAA Championships, and Rubinson matched the best-ever showing by a TCU golfer at the national tournament with a runner-up finish.
The 2000-01 team produced a pair of victories during the season, highlighted by the program's third WAC crown in five years. Montigel's squad once again proved to be a national power in 2000, placing 11th in the NCAA Championships.
In the spring of 1998, TCU registered its second straight WAC tournament title, one earned when the squad stormed back from a five-shot deficit on the final day to defeat top-ranked UNLV. That May, TCU advanced to the NCAA Championships for a school-record fifth straight season and for the seventh time in eight years. In addition, Henry was named the 1998 Golfweek/Taylor Made Co-College Player of the Year.
In 1997, TCU captured the Western Athletic Conference championship and Montigel was named WAC Coach of the Year. The next month, the Frogs went on to a seventh-place showing in the NCAA Championships, TCU's best national placement under Montigel and the second-best finish in school history. Following the season, the Frogs were ranked fourth in the final Golfweek Top 25 poll. In addition, Ochoa became the first TCU golfer ever to earn first-team All-America accolades.
There are those who might experience difficulty dealing with such success, but Montigel remains a quiet, unassuming and modest person. In fact, he is quick to credit his success to the university, the community, the players and his family.
Montigel, the longest-tenured coach at the school, is on the NCAA District VI Selection Committee. He also is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Coaches Association of America.
Previously, he served as Chairman of the District VI Selection Committee, was part of the NCAA Men's Golf Committee and has been the chair of the TCU Head Coaches Committee. In 2002, Montigel was voted into the Horned Frog Classic Hall of Honor, and in 2003 he was named TCU Coach of the Year by the Dallas All Sports Association.
Montigel and his wife, Margaret, have two children, Kelli and Thomas. In May, Kelli graduated summa cum laude from Fort Worth's Paschal High School. She was a first-team all-district selection in golf the past two seasons. She will be a member of the TCU women's golf team in the fall. Thomas, a seventh-grader, enjoys golf, basketball and football. In May, he advanced to the regionals at the Drive, Chip & Putt Junior Challenge.