Razorbacks Ready to Prove Themselves at SEC Go
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – When the 20th-ranked Razorbacks travel to St. Simons Island, Ga., for the 2004 Southeastern Conference Golf Championships on April 16-18, they will be looking to improve on their seventh-place showing from last year and claim the league crown. If they capture first place it will be UA’s first SEC title since 1995.
“We want to improve on last year’s performance of seventh,” Arkansas head coach Mike Ketcham said. “When we go to a golf tournament we go into it with the expectation of winning, no matter where we go. Winning takes care of itself through doing all the right things to get there. We have to put ourselves in position in the first and second rounds by playing solid golf.”
Ketcham is taking the same five-man lineup that experienced success just two weeks ago at the Border Olympics and in the fall at the Country Club of Louisiana Classic. The Hogs are more than ready to prove themselves on Sea Island Golf Club’s par 70, 6,885-yard golf course as they carry nine top-10 performances into the tournament.
Excelling at the SEC Championships will not be an easy task as eight of the 12 conference teams can be found in the Golfweek/Sagarin Top 50. Arkansas is one of five in the top 25. Florida has remained steady at No. 1, Georgia is fourth and South Carolina is in the 12th spot. The Kentucky Wildcats round out rankings in 24th.
“This is my favorite time of year,” Ketcham said. “This is what we’ve worked for all year, so I know everyone is amped up and ready to play. This tournament is probably my favorite place we play all year. Sea Island, Ga., is a great venue and is the best test of golf we play throughout the year, with the exception of the national championships. A true champion will be crowed at this tournament because it rewards good play. You can’t fake your way around this golf course. You have to be extremely patient and pay attention to detail.”
Senior All-SEC and All-American Andrew Dahl will look to post his third-straight top-15 league championship finish. Last year he tied for fifth and in 2002 he finished 11th. Dahl is leading the team with a low stroke average of 72.5, and during the 2003-04 campaign he has been Arkansas’ top finisher five times and posted six top-15 performances. His best showing came at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate on March 16, where he captured first place and shot a competitive course record opening round of 64. It also marked his third-career tournament victory.
Senior Seth Murphy is making his second-straight SEC tourney appearance and last year he tied for 50th with a 22-over-par 232. Murphy has had a successful senior campaign and has collected three top-10 finishes while keeping a 73.7 average. His best performance came at the Gary Koch Intercollegiate when he shot a five-under-par 211. At the Cleveland Golf Classic on March 2, he fired a career-best round of 66.
Senior Chad Faucett is returning to the SEC Championships for the first time since 2002. As a sophomore he finished 25th with a score of 222. This year Faucett has competed in six tournaments for an average of 74.4 and has come on strong as of late being Arkansas’ No. 3 or 4 man.
Freshmen Matt Bortis and Beau Glover have already made significant contributions in their first year as Razorbacks and will be gunning to make an impact in their conference championship debut. Bortis has represented UA in eight tournaments and has come away with four top-20 finishes. He recently recorded a career-best round of 66 at the Border Olympics and has the second-lowest stroke average on the team (73.2).
Glover has five top-30 finishes to his name and has turned in two season-best tourney scores of one-under-par 215. That performance also gave him a season-best finish of ninth place at the Country Club of Louisiana Intercollegiate.
The Razorbacks have a practice round scheduled for 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 15. They will tee off for the first round at 10:40 a.m. on Friday, April 16. One round of play will follow on each day through Sunday, April 18.
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