Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer
Senior golfer and co-captain Brock Simmons earned his second OVC Golfer of the Week honor in three weeks with a third place finish at the UT Martin Skyhawk Fall Classic at Paris Landing State Park in Buchanan, Tennessee, Oct. 5-6.
Announced Oct. 7 by the OVC league office, Simmons shares the honor with UT Martin’s Hunter Richardson. The two golfers tied at the Fall Classic with total scores of 209 each. Simmons’ three rounds of 70-66-73 marked both his lowest round and lowest total of the year thus far.
“Brock’s worked extremely hard,” Head Coach Eddie Hunt said. “Two-time player of the week for the OVC says something about Brock’s efforts this year, because we’ve just been in the season for about a month. I expect Brock to be in contention almost every time we have a tournament, and that’s what you like to see.”
Alabama State took home first place out of 11 teams, with UT Martin taking second, seven strokes behind with a team total of 853. The Racers totaled five strokes above the Skyhawks, with team rounds of 287-276-295 for a 858. Junior Matthew Zakutney, senior Duncan McCormick, senior Jared Gosser and senior Preston French joined Simmons in team play placing sixth, eighth, 11th and 28th, respectively. The rest of the roster competed in individual play, with freshman Gabe Wheeler tying for 14th place. Hunt was impressed with his team as they tied for the lead after the first two rounds, but disappointed by the result of day two.
“We really felt good about ourselves and thought we had a really good chance of winning the tournament,” Hunt said. “We felt like, especially being tied for the lead, that we really had an opportunity to win the tournament. But for whatever reason we didn’t play really good the second day. I was really disappointed. I thought that we’d be in a real battle for first place. We just got off to a bad start and never recovered.”
The Racers have three tournaments under their belt so far this fall, with a championship title at home and an 11th place finish at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Derek Dolenc Invitational in Madison, Illinois, Sept. 28-29. Looking ahead, they have a week off from tournament play before traveling to the Links at Novadell in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, for the Austin Peay State Intercollegiate Oct. 19-20. Hunt is giving the team a few days off to rest – taking into consideration that Francis E. Miller Memorial Golf Course will be crowded during the weekend for Murray State Homecoming. The last tournament of the fall, Arkansas State’s Fall Beach Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is a week after Austin Peay’s tourney and will cap off the season before they return to the course in February.
The players will emphasize their short game over the next two weeks before facing upwards of six conference teams at Austin Peay.
“We want to go up there and have a good showing toward the end of the year and see how we stack up with the rest of the league,” Hunt said. “It’s close to home, which makes it nice, and we’ll probably take six or seven players. Our main competition for the title will be there.”