Men’s golf recruit Kevin Geniza chooses Oregon, eyeing future playing career

Oregon men’s golf head coach Casey Martin was surprised when Kevin Geniza called him last October.

Geniza, a senior at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, had previously committed to Santa Clara University, only to decommit right before his senior year began.

Santa Clara initially attracted Geniza for several reasons: the facilities, great playing conditions year round and an opportunity to get a good education.

But, Santa Clara had a couple drawbacks. It didn’t have a coach with Martin’s coaching record and PGA Tour experience. It also wasn’t in a major conference with a schedule as competitive as the Pac-12’s.

Geniza aspires to play golf professionally, and he felt like Oregon gave him the best chance of doing so. Geniza called Martin to tell him he wanted to be a Duck, joining class of 2016 recruits Roberto Lebrija and Teddy Oitzman.

“I’ve known Casey pretty much through my whole junior career and I know that he’s been a great coach there,” Geniza said. “And Pac-12 golf, there’s no more competitive place to play. It was also a very personal decision, because I knew I needed to see myself advancing my game as far as I can. I could see myself down the road [doing that] at Oregon.”

Likewise, Martin knew who Geniza was. He saw Geniza move up the junior ranks and win back-to-back Oregon 5A boys golf titles for Crescent Valley as a sophomore and junior. When he began recruiting Geniza, Martin said he didn’t need to say much about the university or the team’s national ascension during his tenure.

“It’s part of the whole package,” Martin said of his team’s appeal to potential recruits. “But with us going to NCAA Championships the last couple years, us hosting this year, [recruits] know that … It sells itself.”

Geniza grew up idolizing current Oregon men’s golfers Sulman Raza, Zach Foushee and Nigel Lett, who all competed against one another in Oregon junior championships before joining the Ducks.

“It will be pretty awesome to play with a couple of those guys next year and be on their level,” Geniza said.

It might not be long before Geniza is playing alongside them. The Ducks will lose two key players to graduation after this season in Foushee and Brandon McIver, leaving vacant spots for new players to emerge.

Geniza’s goal is to play early as a freshman.

“I’m definitely aiming for that,” Geniza said. “I know that I have tons of maturing and learning to do, but I know that I can get my game up there and I really hope to play as soon as I get there.”

In the meantime, however, Geniza wants to finish his junior golf career strong. In addition to a run for a third consecutive prep title, Geniza will be competing in the US Amateur Four-Ball in May, a team national championship event, with his older brother, Matthew, who also played at Crescent Valley.

Geniza plans to major in business and wants to pursue a golf-related career if he doesn’t play. But first, Geniza intends to see where his golf career can take him.

“I just want to prepare my game as much as I can before I get to Oregon so I can impact the team and hopefully play right away,” he said.

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Will Denner

Will Denner

Will Denner is a senior journalism major at the University of Oregon. He covers football and men's golf for the Emerald. Email Will at [email protected] with tips, questions and comments.