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McNeese golfer Hampus Bergman has been named the SLC freshman of the year. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

McNeese golfer Hampus Bergman has been named the SLC freshman of the year. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

Bright future for Swedish import

Last Modified: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:09 AM

By Albert Burford / American Press

Just call him the Swedish Sensation.

Golfer Hampus Bergman, an Örebro, Sweden native, led McNeese State throughout the season, with the best Southland Conference tournament performance for the Cowboys, finishing tied for 11th at 6-over 222. His effort helped the team to a sixth-place finish, its highest since 2005.

Bergman was voted Southland Freshman of the Year, becoming the first men’s golfer in program history to win the award.

“I’m honored to be selected as the freshman of the year,” he said. “This was a solid year but I feel I have more to give. Now I am excited to go home to Sweden to see my family, friends, coach and swing trainer. I’ll play in some events during the summer and come back prepared for the fall.”

The Nordic newcomer was named second-team All-SLC and averaged a score of 71.9 per round.

It’s that attitude of always looking ahead that sets Bergman apart, said McNeese golf coach Austin Burk.

“What separates him from the rest of the guys is that he knows college golf isn’t his final stop. It’s not his goal,” Burk said. “For Hampus, this is just third base; he wants to play after this. He’s a show-up-early, stay-late kind of guy.”

Burk scouted Bergman in Sweden, watching him play in the European Boys’ Team Championships, where his team won and he finished sixth in stroke play. Burk said he immediately saw Bergman’s talent.

As a freshman, Burk said it was important for Bergman to understand there would be an adjustment period, but said the golfer was also confident in his abilities.

“You have to know you can play with anybody, and that’s how he approaches it. He thinks he can beat anybody,” Burk said. “He’s a freshman and if you compare him to freshmen, he’s ahead of the game. If you compare him to someone who’s 22 or 23 years old, he has some growing to do. I think that will come in the next few years and he’ll progress nicely.”

Bergman, Martin Eriksson and Ragnar Mar Gardarsson spend their summers back home, which is Sweden for Bergman and Eriksson and Iceland for Gardarsson. While they are across the world from Lake Charles, Burk said he tracks their progress and keeps in touch with frequent social-media conversations and a couple phone calls each summer.

While American golfers play in local tournaments during the summer, the European golfers do much of the same in their respective homes. They will be trying to qualify for the Scandinavian Masters and the British Amateur Championship.

Burk said he has high hopes for Bergman’s future and legacy at McNeese.

“I don’t know if he’s solidified himself at this point as the best golfer to come through McNeese,” he said. “I know 20, 30 years ago, there were some really great players here. Maybe after three more years, with a couple good semesters under his belt, he could for sure solidify himself as the best one.”

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