Tyler Duke, Staff Writer
It is not very common to see true freshmen dominating college sports. The transition from high school to college can be demanding, and the competition is stronger than ever before. When you take into account that the freshman is a 19-year-old golfer from Sweden in his first year in the U.S., it is even more impressive.
That is what Fredrik Nilehn has done this year for the Kennesaw State men’s golf team. Nilehn was born in Gothenburg, Sweden and graduated from Katrinelundymnasiat High School last year. Nilehn had been in the United States a few times for major golf tournaments, but he had never spent a substantial amount of time here.
Nilehn met Coach Jay Moseley two years ago in Miami where he was playing a tournament with the Swedish national team.
“He was very interested in me coming here to the U.S., and I kind of felt the same way, because I know in the golf world the best college players are the best amateurs in the world,” Nilehn said.
KSU was ultimately the college of choice for Nilehn, after receiving offers from schools like Florida and Northwestern. “Coach Moseley is very good and they play a good schedule here,” Nilehn said on his decision to come to KSU. “Also, I knew two other Swedes who went here before, and they really recommended this school to me.”
Even though he had been to the U.S. before, Nilehn did say it took some time getting used to life here.
“I’ve been in the U.S. many times before, but coming to college to live here was a lot different,” he said. “Living by yourself and studying and reading all books in English, it’s a new language and another culture. Yeah, there are a lot of differences, but I kind of feel like I’m getting used to it now, and I like it a lot.”
As a golfer, Nilehn also has to deal with the differences in the game of golf in the U.S. While most sports are very similar in any country its played in, golf courses are a huge factor in how someone plays, and the courses in Sweden aren’t the same style as they are here.
“You have another type of grass here called Bermuda and we have another one in Sweden, so that makes it harder to play the courses here,” said Nilehn. “The courses look a little bit different as well.”
Nilehn had an impressive fall season for the Owls, and he especially got it going in the final tournament. His scoring average for the season was under 72, and he had a record-setting performance in his win at Pinetree Country Club in Kennesaw. His 8-under par 64 in the opening round broke a KSU and Pinetree record. He went on to win the tournament at 14-under par which also broke the low 54-hole score record for KSU.
“I actually shot 64 a couple weeks earlier there in a qualifying round,” Nilehn said. “I feel like I know how to play Pinetree and how I’m going to play there to score well. I made a lot of putts, and I played well and didn’t make many mistakes.”
“Fredrik’s performance this week was nothing short of spectacular,” head coach Jay Moseley said on Nilehn’s performance at Pinetree. “It was one of the most impressive tournaments we have ever had by a KSU player, and I am excited to watch him continue to develop and improve.”
Nilehn received A-Sun Conference golfer of the week for his win at Pinetree, his first time getting the award.
The Owls now have a break until they get back into competitive play in the spring. “Overall I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done so far,” Nilehn said. “Of course there are some things that I can work at as always, but still, I had a great tournament now, and it felt very good to finish out the season in this way.”
With only one semester under his belt, Nilehn has set very high expectations for himself moving forward. The 19-year-old seems to be settling in, and his game looks like it should only continue to get better. Three more years of golf at KSU for Nilehn should be very exciting for the Owls.