The Razorbacks are celebrating International Student Week Monday-Friday, Nov. 15-19. We will be highlighting a couple of our standout student-athletes who have embraced the challenges of school and athletics in the United States. They face many obstacles from language to food to customs and styles but all of them share one thing – they are Razorbacks.
FAYETTEVILLE – Razorback student-athletes have come from near and far over the years and two of the Arkansas golf team’s outstanding individuals have been women’s golfer Kelli Shean and men’s golfer Sebastian Cappelen. Both international student-athletes, Shean hails from Cape Town, South Africa while Cappelen joined the Arkansas family from Odense, Denmark.
Women’s golf has a long-standing history of successful integration of international student-athletes in collegiate programs in the United States and the Razorbacks are no exception.
Shean has been successful on both the collegiate and amateur circuits and plans to turn professional after graduation.
"Kelli has the heart of a champion," Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor said. "She has a tremendous work ethic and pushes herself and her teammates to be better."
Shean earned her first All-Southeastern Conference honor last spring and followed up with All-America honors helping Arkansas back to the postseason.
Her collegiate success was rewarded with those honors but it was her amateur accomplishments that really put Shean on the golf world’s radar.
Shean qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open last summer and stunned the field coming off the course in first place at Oakmont, one of the nation’s most challenging courses.
She made the cut for the event playing in the same field with former Razorback and current LPGA professional Stacy Lewis.
Shean’s success earned her a sponsor’s exemption into the P&G Beauty NW Arkansas LPGA Championship at Pinnacle Country Club this fall.
Shean began the fall with her collegiate teammates helping Arkansas to the team title at the Susie Berning Maxwell Invitational in Norman, Okla., picking up a runner-up finish. She added a top 20 finish while the Razorbacks were second at the Mercedes Benz Collegiate Championships two weeks later.
Then the schedule got crazy.
Shean traveled to Argentina representing South Africa for the second time in her amateur career at the 2010 World Amateur Team Championship in Buenos Aires.
She carded a five-under 283 with rounds of 70-69-72-72 moving up two spots in the final round of play to tie for fourth place overall. South Africa’s three-player team tied for third in the 52-team event.
Shean also carded a hole-in-one in the second round of the tournament. Shean hovered near the top of the leader board for much of the tournament finishing just eight strokes off the lead.
The four-day event ended and Shean boarded a plane for Las Vegas, Nev., joining her Razorback teammates for the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown.
Shean hit the course running finishing second overall, helping Arkansas to single-round and tournament records and the team title.
"What can you say about that performance?" said Estes-Taylor. "Kelli played her heart out that week and I was so proud.
"But I have come to expect that of Kelli," she continued. "She has her goals set and is very focused. This is going to be a fun senior season for her."
The Razorbacks wrapped up fall play in early November and will continue to train until their next event in February.
Cappelen’s success has been immediate as he entered school in the fall of 2010. In five tournaments he has posted four top 20 finishes including a runner-up in his first outing as a Razorback after a wonderful prep career in his native Denmark.
A national team player for his home country, Cappelen played in the WC juniors in 2008 and the European Team Championships in 2009. He posted a three-under par score at the Titliest Championship in March of 2010 and set a course record 10-under par at the Odense Eventyr Golf in July of 2009.
"Sebastian has all the shots," Arkansas men’s head coach Brad McMakin said of Cappelen before the season began. "He can play long or hit short and is strong around the green. With some work he could be one of the best golfers we have had in a long time."
Cappelen’s Arkansas career began at the Gopher Invitational and after a one-over par round to open the season he dropped a five-under par score to place himself amongst the tournament leaders. A round of par on the final day allowed Cappelen to finish second overall.
The Dane was at his best two tournaments later at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational when he carded his second top 10 finish of the year with a seven-over par final score on one of the toughest courses that Arkansas will play this season. Cappelen completed the fall season with back-to-back tournaments under par and another two top 20 individual finishes.
With a stroke average of 72.07, Cappelen has already placed himself among the elite golfers in school history if he can keep up his current pace. Only three players in school history have finished a complete year under 72.0 including a fellow European, David Lingmerth, who accomplished the task last season.
The Razorback men’s golf team currently has three international student athletes including Cappelen. Junior Christoffer Arvidsson of Falkenberg, Sweden and Tobias Pettersson of Kalmar, Sweden, also call Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas home.