The start wasn’t as easy for Fendt as it was for Noto, but heading into the spring portion of the 2009 season both golfers were starting to show glimpses of something special.
“It certainly did take Philipp a semester to get comfortable,” head coach Theo Sliman said. “I believe the reason it was hard for Philipp was the difference in knowledge and expectations of NCAA Division I Golf.
“Andrew grew up two hours away from campus and was very familiar with what to expect on the collegiate level, having watched it throughout his junior career, but Philipp was walking into unchartered waters and needed a semester to get acclimated.”
In Noto’s first collegiate event he finished in a tie for 10th after posting a four-over 220. Noto would go on to place in the top 25 in his next event earning him a spot in the starting lineup for much of the season.
For Fendt it took a little more time to establish himself. After flirting with top 25 performances twice in the fall, the Austrian native finally broke through finishing in a tie for 22nd at the Mardi Gras Invitational in New Orleans, La.
“I vividly remember a pivotal event in Philipp’s evolution to his comfort level here in Lafayette,” Sliman said. “We were in San Antonio the fall semester of his freshman year and conditions were extremely tough. It was cold and windy, and a great score that day was around 76-78. Philipp shot an 85 that day, and I had a knock on my hotel door that night. It was Phil wanting to talk about his performance with obviously an abundance of disappointment on his face. We chatted in private, and had one of the most rewarding conversations between player and coach that both of us would mutually benefit from.”
Fendt went on to place in the top 25 in four of his last six events of the year including three top 10 finishes. At the Carter Plantation Intercollegiate, Fendt had his best finish of the year coming in third against a tough field.
A week later Fendt posted his first ever three-round score of even par or better with a 54-hole score of even-par at the Red Wolf Classic. Fendt would garner All-Sun Belt and All-Louisiana honors that year as well as being named the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year.
With a year under their belts, both Noto and Fendt had squarely cemented their positions in the Cajuns starting five and the pair really seemed to work well together.
“Andrew and Philipp fed off one another from day one,” Sliman stated. “Both of these guys looked up to the upper classman and really took advantage of learning form their predecessor’s experience.”
“I immediately saw leadership in these two young men regarding their approach every day towards their individual golf games. They displayed leadership in the day-to-day aspects of getting better and were the first to show up to practice and the last to leave.”
The two would often look to better each other through the years which more than likely led to Fendt and Noto’s impressive sophomore campaigns.
“Philipp and Andrews’s relationship on the golf course was truly bittersweet,” Sliman said. “They never wanted anyone to outwork them. That went for guys on the team, other players in the Sun Belt as well as all other college golfers.”
During the 2009-10 season both Fendt and Noto had arguably their best year on paper. The pair combined for an impressive round average of 72.60 and had 19 top 25 finishes in 24 rounds including 12 top 10 performances with six of them coming inside the top five.
Fendt posted his lowest score as a Cajun in his second year at UL carding a seven under-par score at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate in Hattiesburg, Miss. That tournament sparked a fire in Fendt that could not be put out as he would only finish outside of the top 25 six time in his final three years as a Ragin’ Cajun.
“Philipp’s career is a very impressive one on paper pertaining to scores and results,” Sliman added. “However, it is the behind the scenes career that is truly amazing.”
While at UL, Fendt had to overcome several obstacles including a back injury that almost ended his ability to play the game and a mental dysfunction regarding his putting (also known as the yips).
“Philipp was faced with an abundance of adversity through-out his career,” Sliman said. “He was able to overcome the many difficult aspects of being a collegiate golfer and performed at an extremely high level. That is a testament to his greatest asset as a player. That asset of course being his mind.
“I have been around a plethora of golfers, from College to PGA stars, I can honestly say every round of golf that Philipp played as a Cajun he never quit. Not many golfers in this world can say that. That shows the mental focus and discipline that this young man has.”
That summer both Noto and Fendt continued their success away from the collegiate game. Noto picked up a win at the regional qualifier, while Fendt won the Austrian National Open as an amateur.
A year later and the pair were back at it again. This time it was Noto who shot his lowest score ever as a Cajun placing third at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate with a score of 11-under par. Noto would notch two more top 10 finishes as a junior, but it was Fendt who would take the forefront in his junior season.
Coming off of the Austrian National Open win, Fendt proceeded to finish in the top 25 in all 11 tournaments he played in as a junior. Even though he was unable to capture medalist honors, Fendt finished in the top 10 four times and posted 15 rounds under par.
That spring, Fendt and Noto were the first pair of Cajuns under Sliman to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. Fendt and Devin Carrey had each qualified as individuals in the previous two years.
Fendt and Noto both qualified for the Gainesville Regional joining their head coach as one of the proud Cajuns to don the colors in the NCAA postseason, but something was missing.
“When Philipp and Andrew were selected to participate in the NCAA regional during their junior campaign, they were much honored yet you felt the sense that something was missing,” Sliman said. “Both young men wanted very badly to have the team there for their senior year and it certainly manifested in their approach to leading this team during their senior year.”
Going into their senior campaign Fendt got the ball rolling after reaching match play at the British Amateur and earning a spot in the Top 30 World Amateur Rankings.
The Cajuns got off to a hot start in the 2011-12 season led by the two seniors. Noto again had a good showing at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate posting his first eight-under par performance of the fall.
The second time Noto would post a three-round score of eight-under par he did something truly special. Noto captured his first ever individual tournament championship at the David Toms Intercollegiate carding three rounds of under par golf for the second time on the year.
“To witness and be a part of Andrew winning the David Toms Invitational was extremely special to me as well as to Andrew,” Sliman expressed. “David Toms has been an ambassador to not only the State of Louisiana, but also the World of Golf. To see Andrew, a Louisiana boy receive a trophy from David Toms and be a part of that was truly amazing.
“I vividly remember the final round,” Sliman added. “Andrew got off to a very hot start and I was certainly aware of this. My main goal pertaining to Andrew at this time was to let him go. He was in the zone. However, I got to walk the last five holes with him mainly due to his request. We always preach the importance of finishing the round off. That is certainly five holes in my coaching career that I will never forget.”
Fendt also posted his best career finish his senior year with a runner-up finish at the prestigious Border Olympics in Laredo, Texas. That came two weeks after a third place finish at the Louisiana Classics for Fendt.
Even though Fendt was never able to capture an individual championship, it’s safe to say the senior had his eyes fixed on a different goal.
“I can honestly say that Philipp not reaching the individual winners circle as a collegiate golfer has never bothered him,” Sliman said. “From day one Philipp has been the epitome of our philosophy- learn and apply. He welcomed each and every week here as an opportunity to learn and apply knowledge. He also had a mature grasp on the fact that to win a college event takes a little extra luck, and Philipp was more focused on putting himself in contention to win. He seemed to do that well, roughly 50-percent of the time.”
Noto and Fendt’s goal was accomplished on May 7, 2012 when the Ragin’ Cajuns golf team had its name called on the NCAA selection show to go to a regional for the first time in five years.
Both Noto and Fendt have accomplished so much in their four years since first stepping on campus back in August 2008 something that gives coach Sliman a lot of pride.
“When Philipp and Andrew arrived on campus for the first time as student-athletes they also had a coach step foot on campus for the first time as a coach,” Sliman expressed. “So in essence, I was a freshman as well. Philipp and Andrew recognized that early on and I truly think it helped motivate all of us.
“Both young men were fully vested in this University and golf program from day one. It was certainly special to be a part of their college careers. Both young men will soon be embarking on careers as playing professionals.
“There is a picture in my mother’s house that states as parents, there are two things we can give our children-one is “roots”, the other is “wings”. I feel extremely confident that we have given Philipp and Andrew both. They will certainly stay close to this team for many years to come, and I have the utmost confidence that they will have fruitful careers as playing professionals as long as they continue to stay intact with the philosophy that we teach-learn and apply.”