Wildman is still in Augusta, and so far this town has been nothing but thumbs up! In fact, the other night at dinner I ate with the Godfather of Soul’s (that’s James Brown for you young bucks) son in law.
Enough about me. It’s time to talk about other teams in the weekly edition of thumbs up and thumbs down.
1.) Augusta State men and an Augusta State woman. While the defending NCAA champions were taking care of business at the General Hackler, Casey Kennedy was taking care of business on her home court. The men had a magical final round at the Hackler in which they shot 7 under as a team to squeak out a three-stroke victory over Virginia. Augusta State was the only team to shoot under par in Round 3, and the next best team was Auburn at 5 over. On the women’s side, Casey Kennedy dominated at the Administaff Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate. The freshman torched the course the first two days, posting scores of 68-66 and started the third round with a 10-stroke lead over Purdue’s Paula Reto and UTSA’s Paola Valerio. Kennedy shot 1 under Monday to secure a five-stroke win over Reto and help her Lady Jaguars finish second at their home event.
2.) Oklahoma State. It was a come-from-behind win, and it was also a pretty win for the best team in the country. Just because you’re the No. 1 team in the country doesn’t mean you can’t get some props. The Cowboys won at a national championship caliber field at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, and hung off one of their conference rivals in the process. Morgan Hoffman led the charge, winning individual honors with a three-day score of 10 under while teammate Sean Einhaus finished in eighth place. What makes this victory even more impressive for the Cowboys is that they weren’t led by their top two players this season: Peter Uihlein, who finished T-21, and Kevin Tway, who came in 14th. The seven-stroke victory over Texas A&M was the team’s fourth on the year, and they look as strong as ever as the season goes on.
3.) Arkansas (women). If you think it’s tough trying to figure out the best team in the PAC 10, then try doing the same thing for the SEC. In a field that was mostly comprised of top ACC and SEC teams at the LSU Golf Classic, including third-ranked Alabama, Arkansas made huge improvements day after day. In Round 1, Arkansas shot 305, but then followed that with rounds of 296 and 287. When all was said and done, Arkansas topped Virginia by seven shots. The Hogs started the spring a little sluggish with an 11th-place finish at the Central District Invitational, and followed that up with a fifth-place showing at the Lady Gator. Coach Shauna Estes-Taylor has this team back on track with their third win of the year and, they proved to themselves they can play and beat anyone in the country when they play at their best.
1.) Tulane (women). After a solid third-place showing at their own Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate, 12th-ranked Tulane finished in 11th place at the LSU Golf Classic. Only one player finished in the top 40 for the Green Wave, and that was Maribel Lopez Porras, who was T-5 with top-ranked Megan McChrystal. Arkansas won with a score of 24 over, and Tulane finished at 54 over – 30 shots back! Tulane has been hovering around the top 10 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings after being inside that number most of the fall, but this performance won’t help. The Green Wave will look to rebound in a couple of weeks at the Lady Rebel Intercollegiate.
2.) Georgia Tech. Coach Bruce Heppler has had an amazing season so far, but his Yellow Jackets were stung in Sin City at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters. For weeks, Georgia Tech has been garnering recognition as one of the top four teams in the country, and one that could make a run at a national title later this spring. Georgia Tech finished in ninth place in a field with several of the top teams in the country. Their ninth place showing was only their second finish outside the top 5 all season! Junior James White tied for fifth, but the next Yellow Jackets on the leaderboard were Kyle Scott and J.T. Griffin, who tied for 25th. The Yellow Jackets are still one of the top teams in the country, and have definitely established themselves as the team to beat in the ACC this year. It will be interesting to see how Heppler’s team plays next time around, which will be in a week at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship.
3.) Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons entered the General Hackler Championship as one of the top teams in the field, but ended it with a 12th-place finish in the 17-team field. Wake finished 51 shots behind tournament champs Augusta State, and picked up some bad head-to-head losses as well. Finishing ahead of Wake Forest were Tennessee, Pepperdine, Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, North Florida, Lamar, East Tennessee State and the College of Charleston. For 94th-ranked East Tennessee, and 98th-ranked College of Charleston, it was their first head-to-head victory over a top-25 team in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings this season. Lee Bedford was the top performer for Wake with a T-17 showing, but he didn’t have much help. The next Demon Deacon on the board was Evan Beck, who finished T-38. Wake Forest will look to right the ship in two weeks at the The Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate.