The Ole Miss Rebel golf team had a rough start to their SEC championship, held in Sea Island, Ga. The Rebels finished in eighth place, leaving them disappointed but not discouraged. Despite the disappointing finish, they earned a bid to their fifth consecutive NCAA Regionals.
Windy conditions, and a tough golf course proved to be too much for the Rebels on day one of competition, and they finished with a score of 303. The tough layout and normally windy conditions provide a great challenge for anyone who steps onto the tee. This critically acclaimed golf course is home to such players as Davis Love III, Jonathan Byrd and Zach Johnson. The Rebels got off to a great start on the front nine but stumbled coming in and wasted a lot of shots.
“Our whole team was playing well the first nine holes but we seemed to make too many mistakes on the closing nine. I know our players are capable of putting together a good round and I am confident that they will bounce back from today,” said head coach Ernest Ross.
Coach Ross is no stranger to success at SEC’s as he led the 1984 Ole Miss golf team to a championship. He hopes to repeat that success with the 2011 golf team, 27 years later.
Round two proved to be a more successful day for the Rebels as they shot five over as a team, which was the third lowest round of the day. The second day was the windiest day of the tournament but the Rebels persevered through the conditions to have a great bounce back after they won. Coach Ross was very pleased to see the improvement that the team showed, given the tough conditions.
As round three commenced, the Rebels were looking to make a big move up the leader board, but it just didn’t happen. Scoring conditions for day three were good in comparison to the first two days. The Rebels shot seven over, which put an end to their hopes of bringing home a championship.
“Given the scoring conditions we were hoping to have some good rounds out there to make a good move up the leader board. Unfortunately, none of our players really got it going and we finished with a mediocre round. Nonetheless, I am still proud of my players for never giving up and playing hard,” said Coach Ross.
The SEC has the best amateur golfers in the world. With that being said, competition is very fierce and even a 14th place finish is noteworthy. Jonathan Randolph led the Rebels and ended up tying for 14th in the conference.
“I’m sure Jonathan had higher expectations for the week, but that’s golf. Sometimes you don’t play like you expected to play and you just have to grind it out,” said teammate Chad Bounds.
In regards to his own performance, Bounds said, “I feel like I let a couple shots get away from me, and that I could have played each round a little bit better. Nevertheless, I tried my hardest and I had a lot of fun out there.” Bounds tied for 34th, leaving him disappointed as well.
There is one thing that could be said about every player that competed as SEC’s in Georgia—fun was definitely at the top of the list. Whether or not you play well does not dictate whether you have fun or not, when you go to Sea Island, Ga. The members at the course were very hospitable, and the players enjoyed their time there.
Given the fall’s results, the Ole Miss golf team looked very promising as they geared up for spring tournaments. They got off to a mediocre start but as the conference championships got closer, the Rebels began playing well. With the momentum they had going into SEC’s they were hoping for a better result. However, their expectations did not meet reality when they finished eighth. Despite their finish, the Rebels still earned an NCAA Regional bid, and will be playing next month with hopes of going to NCAA Nationals. The location for regionals is unknown, but the sites vary all across the country. The general consensus among the team members is that they would love to go to California.
In the words of Chad Bounds, “California dreamin’ is on my mind.”
Click here for the Ole Miss golf team page: http://www.olemisssports.com/sports/m-golf/ole-m-golf-body.html
Interview with player Chad Bounds on how he felt SEC's went: