OCALA, Fla. – The No. 15 University of Arkansas men’s golf team began its on-site preparations for the 2011 NCAA Southeast Regional on Wednesday with a practice round at the Golden Ocala golf Club in Ocala, Fla.
Hitting their opening tee shots at roughly 8:20 a.m., the Razorbacks got their first look at the course which serves as the gatekeeper to the NCAA Championships. Arkansas is one of 13 teams that is vying for five spots at the national championship and enter the competition as the No. 3 seed in the region behind the host Florida and 2010 national champion Augusta State.
"This course is tougher than it looks on paper," Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin said. "The greens are going to give a lot of players trouble over the next three days. I think that it will be difficult for teams to go really low, but a score below par should get you through to the national championship.
"I thought that our ball striking was good today. This course gets really narrow in a couple of spots and that helps us because we hit the ball straight."
Arkansas’ first round of competition on Thursday begins at 8 a.m., from the first tee when the Razorbacks play with Florida and Augusta State for the opening 18 holes. The Golden Ocala Golf Club is a par 72, 6,994-yard course that features eight replica holes. Some of those replica holes include No. 8 from Royal Troon, the postage stamp hole, No. 12 from Augusta National, home of The Masters and No. 1 at St. Andrews in Scotland, the first hole in golf.
The Razorback lineup for the Southeast Regional includes senior Jamie Marshall, junior Ethan Tracy, sophomore Austin Cook and freshmen Sebastian Cappelen and Will Pearson. The quintet has played together in seven tournaments this season and produced victories four times including the Cabo Collegiate, John Hayt Invitational, Seminole Intercollegiate and Border Olympics.
Arkansas is hoping that it can improve on last season’s NCAA Regional appearance where it finished eighth and failed to make the NCAA Championships field. The Razorbacks struggled in the opening round in Atlanta and failed to make the field by four strokes, leaving McMakin and his squad frustrated and eager to redeem themselves.