Oglethorpe leads as team seeks revenge at Raven

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DESTIN, Fla. – Oglethorpe came to town with a tagline, and an alliterative one at that. This week’s theme for the Stormy Petrels is “Revenge at the Raven.”

The northern Florida track is a familiar one for the men from Atlanta. Anthony Maccaglia has played here four times despite being a junior. He has teed it up at Raven Golf Club in each of the three Golfweek Invitationals here in addition to playing the NCAA Division III National Championship in Destin last spring. With two eagles (a hole-in-one at the par-3 sixth two years ago and a 3 on the par-5 11th last year), Maccaglia is still searching for that elusive team victory. He’s also still searching for a solid tournament, start to finish.

Like his teammates, Maccaglia still burns a little at the thought of last year’s national championship. Oglethorpe came in a favorite only to miss the 36-hole cut. Hence the focus on revenge.

“Nationals was definitely disappointing,” Maccaglia said. “But it just goes to show you we wanted to win that bad.”

As Oglethorpe opened up a two-shot lead on LaGrange Sunday with an even-par 284, the team certainly looks comfortable. That’s a stark constrast from last spring. Head coach Jim Owen describes the national championship as chaos.

“From the first hole, the first shot,” he said.

Owen is a spirited motivator and a man with a knack for details. He’s broken down scoring into terms that are easy to understand and implement.

Oglethorpe led the nation last year in par-3 scoring. At nationals, not one Stormy Petrel made par at No. 4, the course’s first par 3, in the first round. Oglethorpe rallied, stumbled, regained composure in Round 2 but ultimately couldn’t right the ship.

On Sunday, Owen knew the team’s lead could have been larger with a few more birdies on the par 5s. Oglethorpe was 2 over on those holes. Owen knows that if his players average 4.8 on the par 5s for the round – three pars and a birdie – it can go a long way toward a lead and a win.

“We’re pleased with where we are, but we definitely let a few get away,” Owen said.

Owen could see the resolution in his team’s eyes on Saturday as they prepared themselves for the Golfweek Invitational. As for Maccaglia, who is tied for the lead after a 2-under 69, that resolution is in his eyes every day.

This fall, Maccaglia wrote down his most coveted goal on a sheet of paper and pinned it to his dorm-room wall: win the Jack Nicklaus award. It’s the one given to college golf’s top player at each level of the game.

Maccaglia wakes up to that reminder each morning.

“I wrote that down before we even started this year,” he said.

Maccaglia is one of three Petrels in the top 20 after Round 1 at Raven. He leads a team nearly single-minded in its determination.

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