Men's preview: SEC

Men's preview: SEC

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Men's preview: SEC

Joe David is one of the longest players in college golf. His ball speed can max out at 185 mph. His average drive travels about 315 yards. Those are silly numbers . . . Tour numbers. And he’s only 5-foot-9, 175 pounds.

“Oh, he can put it out there,” Ole Miss coach Ernest Ross said. “But he still has days when he doesn’t putt well, and that costs him.”

There’s the rub: David, a senior, is long and strong and accurate, but rarely can he capitalize from 100 yards and in. That would show up in practice, when he’d be paired with his best friend, former All-American Jonathan Randolph. “They’d play together,” Ross said, “and Joe would outdrive and be a more solid ballstriker, but Jonathan would always outscore him.”

Sure, David has gotten better with the short stick — he’s shaved his scoring average about a stroke and a half (down to 70.79), his number of 3-putts are down, his extra work with putting guru Mike Shannon seems to be paying off — but, Ross says, “Joe could have won a few times this fall if he was putting better.”

When David, No. 66 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, puts everything together, he’s the bona fide No. 1 on a sneaky Ole Miss squad. Two years ago at the SEC Championship, when the wind was howling and the pins were tucked, David shot 9-under 63 . . . which included a triple bogey.

Those kind of red numbers could help the Rebels in the ultra-competitive SEC. Ross, for one, thinks his team is capable of finishing the season in the top 25.

“I was really disappointed with the way we closed out the fall, the last two tournaments,” he said, referring to the Rebels’ starts at the David Toms (7th) and Bridgestone (10th).

“I think we’re really talented. I like our team.”

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Top of the class: Auburn

Best player this fall: Justin Thomas, Alabama

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Past champions

2007: Tennessee

2008: Alabama

2009: Georgia

2010: Georgia

2011: Florida

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Conference capsules

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Complete coverage

Wondering how your favorite conference is shaping up headed into the spring season? Who is our favorite to pick up the automatic qualifier? Check out our conference-by-conference break down with our complete coverage page here.

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