Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer
The men’s golf team ended their fall season with a ninth place finish at the Arkansas State Fall Beach Classic at the Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Rounds of 304-294=598 set them 16 strokes behind the host team, Arkansas State, who took home the title. Initially set up to be a three-day, three round event, the tourney was cut short as inclement weather canceled Monday’s second round.
“We played Sunday in really tough conditions and I thought we played good, considering that,” said Head Coach Eddie Hunt. “Monday we got completely rained out – well, winded. It was too windy to play at all. We tried to and it was too wet and too windy. Then we came back and played the final round on Tuesday. I’ll be honest, I was really disappointed. We should’ve finished a lot better than what we did.”
Senior Jared Gosser placed 14th overall, leading the Racers with rounds of 72-75=147. The University of Auburn’s Grasen Huff claimed the medalist title seven strokes below Gosser with rounds of 71-69=140.
Senior Brock Simmons shot rounds of 75-73=148, putting him at 16th place, and freshman Gabe Wheeler had the next- owest scores at 79-73=152 for a 37th place finish.
“Jared is playing well, and Jared is expected to play well,” Hunt said. “He’s got a lot of experience. I don’t think he’s had a bad finish in any of the tournaments we’ve played. And Brock Simmons has played really well. I think those two players have got a really good chance of being All-Conference players, based on the fall results, so that’s exciting. And our freshman has played really well for a freshman, Gabe Wheeler. He’s played all five tournaments and has pretty much moved into a No. 3 spot in our lineup, which is really unusual for a freshman.”
Seniors Duncan McCormick and Preston French tied for 45th to round out team play. Junior Matthew Zakutney entered the tournament as an individual for the Racers and finished in 59th.
The tournament fielded 11 teams, with the Racers besting Appalachian State and Nicholls State by two and six strokes, respectively. Tennessee Tech and UT Martin were the only other OVC competitors in the field, placing third and seventh.
“We show signs of having a really good team,” Hunt said. “Each tournament, we have one of the best rounds of the tournament, we just don’t play
as well in the second round, and I’m not for sure why. That’s something we need to talk about.”
The Racers now enter the offseason and won’t return to tournament play until Feb. 28 at the Snowman Getaway at Palm Valley Resort in Goodyear, Arizona. During the offseason, they will begin winter workouts and play individually, but they won’t practice as a team again until mid-February. The team will play five tournaments in the spring, three of which are hosted by OVC teams, before the conference championship tournament April 25-27.
“This time of year, everybody’s ready for a break,” Hunt said. “They need to really concentrate and finish up the semester as far as academics go. Thank goodness they’re all pretty good students. We’ve shown glimpses of it, spots, rounds where we can play with anybody, and then we won’t play as well. I think we’ll work it out in the winter. That’s why we have two seasons. The key tournament for us is the conference championship, and I still think we have an excellent chance of winning.”