By Kayla Curry
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
At one time Clement Sordet had never heard of Texas Tech or the Big 12, and now it is his biggest goal to lead his fellow Red Raiders to a Big 12 Championship victory.
While still in high school, the Charbonnieres, France native realized he wanted to play in America because he wanted to get both an education and time to play the game he loves.
“The first time I thought about coming here was a year before I graduated high school,” Sordet said. “I played some tournaments in the U.S., and I met some coaches. I knew I needed to go because in France, school pretty much takes the whole day. I wanted a degree, and I wanted to still play golf.”
After finishing high school, Sordet decided to take a year to focus solely on his golf game. During that time, he won the 2011 Open Allianz Tour Mirobelle d’or and got the attention of American coaches, especially Texas Tech head coach, Greg Sands.
“I went over to Finland to watch him play,” Sands said. “He was playing in the European Amateur. He hit the ball really well, and his golf swing is beautiful. He does everything really technically sound.”
Faced with a huge decision, Sordet narrowed his options down to three universities, including Augusta State, East Tennessee State and Texas Tech, and hit the road to visit.
“After I picked the top three, I came to visit here and two other places,” Sordet said. “This was the first one, and right when I came here, I knew it was the one. I liked the facilities, the coach and the other players. We had some great players coming in my freshman year.”
Making the move from eastern France to West Texas was a culture shock for the newest Red Raider. Although he struggled with culture and language barriers, there was little to no effect on his game.
“At first it was crazy because I won my first tournament when I got here,” Sordet said. “That was kind of surprising. I got some confidence after that.”
With that confidence, the rookie Red Raider finished his first year with a team-best 72.9-stroke average, PING honors, All-Big 12 honors, and listed on Golf World’s Players to Watch list.
Sands, though, was not surprised by this success.
“He was playing some good golf before he came to Tech,” Sands said, “so I really wasn’t that surprised that he played as well as he did. You never really know when a freshman comes on to campus how they’re going to adjust. In some regards, I was surprised that he handled everything so well, and in some regards, I wasn’t because I knew he could play the game.”
The 2011-12 team also consisted of three other freshmen in the starting lineup -Matias Dominguez, Esteban Restrepo and Henry Todd, a group that has spent three years continuing a strong golf tradition at Tech. The Red Raiders enter this spring with the longest NCAA postseason streak on campus.
Sordet said he has enjoyed building the team with his fellow third year teammates, especially because they made the overseas transition easier for him.
“I wouldn’t like to be the only international player on the team,” Sordet said. “I know some teams have that and it kind of feels outside the team. It’s really good to have some people from different continents. We have Europe, America and South America. We share a lot. We talk about our countries.”
As Sordet and his team move forward, he is focusing on being more consistent, and Sands is confident in their work this year.
“It’s been nice to be patient with him and kind of keep encouraging him,” Sands said. “We’ve been working on some things that I think took a little while to trust in competition and now I think he’s playing well. He’s a hard worker. He’s working hard on his putting recently and hopefully those will pay off.”
Although they are always working to improve, Sands never doubted Sordet’s skill level.
Sordet is looking forward to putting that high level of performance and the result of three years of collegiate play on display this weekend at the Big 12 Championship held in Trinity, Texas.“On the course, he’s a patient guy,” Sands said. “He doesn’t play out of control. He stays controlled and he’s not overly aggressive. He can certainly play the game at a very high level.”