FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ men’s golf team recorded its best finish in six years over the weekend at the Southeastern Conference championships and the Razorbacks were just four shots away from finishing tied for fourth.
Arkansas finished sixth, its best showing since the 1996 team finished third. Last year, UA finished 10th. UA finished 11th in both 1999 and 2000.
“In the first semester, we took some time to see what we had and what we didn’t have,” first-year head coach Mike Ketcham says. “We felt like we had talent to be successful at this level. We have some kids in this program that can help us win an SEC and a national championship, which is our goal. We knew we would have some ups and downs, but we have something to build on and we ended on a good note.”
The Razorbacks recorded rounds of 290, 299 and 289 to finish with an 878 total on the 6,885-yard, par 70 Sea Island Golf Club at Sea Island, Ga. Auburn won the title with an 857, followed by Florida at 864, Georgia at 866, and LSU and Vanderbilt at 874.
Arkansas was in third place following the first round of the tournament with its 290, trailing only Florida (284) and Auburn (285), but dropped to seventh following the second round. The Razorbacks fired a 289 on the last day, which tied for the fourth-best team round of the day, to move up a spot to sixth.
“We had not been in that position in a long time,” Ketcham says of the third-place position following the opening day. “We weren’t comfortable in that environment, but the third round showed we have the ability to do it. Of the 878 shots, if we could have saved just a shot or two per man per round, we could have had a chance to win the tournament.”
The top three scorers for Ketcham are all sophomores. Andrew Dahl finished 11th with a seven-over par 217 (73-73-71), Adam Wing tied for 25th with an 11-over 221 (77-75-69) and Chad Faucett tied for 27th with a 12-over 222 (71-76-75).
UA’s other scorers were junior Beau Galyean, who tied for 33rd with a 14-over 224 (70-75-79), and junior Drew Higginbothom, who finished tied for 46th with a 19-over 229 (76-79-74).
“We were very young this year,” Ketcham says. “If we bring in a few recruits with what we have coming back, we’ll be on the rise, but a lot of that depends on what they do this summer. Huge improvements can be made from May through August. How hard they work and the more tournaments they play will make them tougher and more competitive, and get us tournament-tough.”
Several players showed major improvements this year. Wing improved from a 76.4 average to 73.6 this year. Galyean dropped from 76.0 to 74.1 and Higginbothom from 76.1 to 75.4.
“Everything starts with their attitude,” Ketcham says. “Some of the guys made changes in their swings but they all worked hard to better learn how to manage a course and to stay focused for 18 holes.”