Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer
A first place win and a sudden-death playoff made for an exciting start to the Murray State’s men’s golf season. The Racers carded scores of 285-287-281=853 at their home tournament, the Murray State Invitational, at Frances E. Miller Memorial Golf Course in Murray Monday and Tuesday. Leading the tournament after the first two rounds, senior Brock Simmons totaled scores of 70-71-69 to tie Alabama State University’s Branson Ferrier for first place as the final round concluded Tuesday.
While some tournaments determine a medalist by countback in the result of a tie, Head Coach Eddie Hunt set up the MSU Invitational with a sudden-death playoff system, starting with the most difficult hole, No. 1. If the competitors tie at hole one, they would then move to hole eight, and hole nine in the case of a tie there. Simmons and Ferrier faced off immediately after the conclusion of awards, where Simmons lost by just one stroke.
“Brock got beat in the playoff, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s a winner,” Hunt said. “I felt coming in this year that he was going to have a really good senior year. He’s worked extremely hard. I know he’s disappointed, because that would have been his first tournament win, but the kid that beat him is really a good player. So Brock has nothing to be ashamed of. He was disappointed, but I think he’ll be doing that at a number of tournaments this year.”
Although Simmons left the course without the title of medalist, he left it pleased with a team win and with a renewed sense of motivation and was named the Adidas OVC Golfer of the Week Wednesday by the league’s sports information directors for the first time in his career.
“We’ve been wanting to start off the year by winning this tournament,” Simmons said. “We’ve been talking about that since last year, so it’s good to do that. Losing obviously motivates me a little bit, because it doesn’t settle too well. It’ll give me a reason to practice a little harder next week.”
Senior Preston French and junior Matthew Zakutney also made the all-tournament team with third and fourth place finishes, respectively. Senior Jared Gosser and freshman Gabe Wheeler also competed in team play with scores of 217 and 224 each throughout the three rounds. Senior Duncan McCormick tied for 16th place, accompanying sophomores Daniel Taylor and Nick Choate and redshirt freshman Lance Davis in individual play.
Tennessee Tech took home second place, carding a total score 16 strokes behind the Racers. Rounding out the field of eight teams were Alabama State, Wright State, Tennessee State, Western Illinois, Missouri Baptist and Eastern Illinois, respectively. Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois gave the Racers a small taste of their conference competition before they prepare to compete at SIU- Edwardsville’s Derek Dolenc Invitational in Madison, Illinois, Sept. 28-29.
“I think the OVC is going to be really interesting,” Hunt said. “I would think, just in the first couple weeks of the year, I think it’s going to be about four, five teams having some good results – and maybe not so good – but it’ll be really good competition among the league this year. And I think we’ll be included in that group.”
The men are scheduled to compete in five tournaments, four of which are hosted by conference teams, during the fall season before returning to the links in February. With four seniors and a slew of other able competitors, Hunt feels confident that although the lineup may change, the team will play consistently well.
“I think this year we’ve got about four guys that could all go low and win tournaments,” Hunt said. “It might not be the same guy all the time, and that’s what you look for in a good team.”