Golfweek Program Challenge: Without Campbell in field, teams see opportunity

Jacksonville State's James Hobbs, left, often boasts men's and women's rosters with many international players.

Golfweek Program Challenge: Without Campbell in field, teams see opportunity

College

Golfweek Program Challenge: Without Campbell in field, teams see opportunity

By

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. – With the absence of the Campbell golf teams at the 2019 Golfweek Program Challenge, the field is wide open when play begins Monday.

Since 2011, Campbell has dominated the event held at True Blue Golf Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.

The Camels won six of the last seven events at Pawleys Island and dominated in 2018, claiming both men’s and women’s team honors and the championship. The men finished with a total 48-under 816 and the women shot 18-under 834 last year.

But none of the players or coaches after Sunday’s practice round blinked when asked about Campbell’s absence.

GOLFWEEK PROGRAM CHAMPIONSHIP SCORES: Men | Women

“Obviously they’re a really good team. (Their absence) doesn’t really affect our mentality,” said Gardner-Webb senior Allison Chandler, who finished T-22 at last year’s Challenge. “We just want to play our best regardless of who we’re playing against.”

Jacksonville State junior Jesus Dario Montenegro, who finished even par after 54 holes and T-29, sees the strategy Campbell used to win so often at Pawleys Island.

“I think if you take advantage of the birdie holes,” Montenegro said. “That’s the way to win, and you have to play them really good every time.”

Jacksonville State men’s and women’s coach James Hobbs said what made Campbell such a challenging opponent is the dominance of its women’s team and the steady rise of the mens’ team.

“The good thing about playing against Campbell is for a long time his women’s team is probably a little bit better than his men’s team,” Hobbs said. “The two or three times that (Campbell coach John Crooks) beat us here when it’s been really close, his women’s team pretty much carried the primary load. But the last couple years, his men’s team has really made a lot of progress toward catching up and being almost as competitive as his women’s program.”

Last year Jacksonville State’s men’s team tied for second with Stephen F. Austin State, 34 shots behind Campbell. The Jacksonville State women’s team finished fourth at 39-over 891, 57 shots behind Campbell.

A new challenge

While Campbell’s absence removes one obstacle, there’s another wrinkle to a constant at the Pawleys Island event. Since the Challenge began in 2011, the men’s teams have played the course at True Blue Golf Club and the women at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.

This year, the teams will swap locations.

Hobbs, who has coached Jacksonville State at all eight of the Challenges on the island, said the course change will pose a challenge but his players are up for it.

“I think the big challenge is to see how well the men’s team plays, and the other side of that I feel like my women’s team will play and score better at True Blue than they will at Caledonia,” Hobbs said. “Caledonia is a really good golf course for women, but it’s a little short for the men… I have a really well-established (men’s) team so I’m expecting them to go out and play really well the next two days.

“I’ve got the kind of girls I think that will respond really well over here at True Blue. It’s more open, not as much trouble to get into with your driver so you can take a few chances over here and you can get really aggressive.”

Is weather a factor?

Although Hurricane Dorian played a hand in delaying the tournament by one day, it wasn’t as dire as Hurricane Irma, which forced the event’s cancellation in 2017.

Dorian battered the South Carolina coast just three days ago, but the courses looked to be in good condition Sunday. A few flooded low areas throughout the area were the only evidence a hurricane had passed.

“Just probably the bunkers (show damage),” Montenegro said. “That’s the only part. The greens are kind of slow but no more than normal.”

Because of the storm, the 15 teams for both men and women will play 36 holes Monday. Neither Chandler nor Montenegro were concerned about the schedule.

Both said although it’ll be a long, hot day with temperatures in the mid to upper 80s along with high humidity, they have experience playing 36 holes.

 

Latest

More Golfweek
Home