Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer
The men’s golf team tees off in the first round of the OVC championship Friday in Muscle Shoals, Ala.
With a two week break since their last tournament, Tennessee State’s Big Blue Intercollegiate in Nashville, Tenn., the team has been preparing by traveling to various courses in the area more similar to The Shoals, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail that the men will compete on, including the Paducah Country Club in Paducah, Ky., and the Tennessean in Springville, Tenn.
The final lineup of the season has been set by Head Coach Eddie Hunt, and it includes senior Jordan Smith and juniors Duncan McCormick, Brock Simmons, Jordan Gosser and Preston French. Of the five, Simmons is the only golfer that hasn’t competed in the OVC Championship.
“We looked at the last two tournaments,” Hunt said. “And those five really played better than everybody else. And I think over the year, that was our best lineup. Experience-wise, I think that they earned a spot. I think we’ve got a good group.”
Jacksonville State is a favored team heading into the tournament, but Hunt thinks every team is just as capable of taking home a title.
“I think it’s really kind of wide open,” Hunt said. “I think it’s going to be that type of tournament, whoever’s really playing good and gets three solid rounds, I think that’s who’s going to win.”
The Racers’ recurring downfall this season has been two strong rounds of golf with a third faulty round falling somewhere within the tournament. Hunt is confident that each of the five golfers to play this weekend can contribute three solid rounds.
He said the lone senior, Smith, leads by example through his work ethic.
“Since I’ve been coaching golf, he’s probably the hardest worker,” Hunt said. “We’ve had some great players come through Murray State, but overall he’s probably the hardest worker that I’ve had in the 13 to 14 years. And I think that really shows in his play.”
As conference awards are announced this week, Smith is definitely in the running. The team traveled and got in a practice round Wednesday, which Hunt believes to be an advantage over some teams that got into Alabama later. His biggest concern, however, is getting in the three scheduled rounds.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed that we get three really good days of play in,” Hunt said. “Because in the past – I think the last four or five years – we’ve had to just complete the tournament with two rounds and not play the third round. And I don’t think that’s fair for anybody. A lot can happen in a round of golf.”