Coach Josh Brewer seems to have turned the program around, as the Lady Bulldogs golf team entered the SEC Championship with a #7 national ranking and a team lead by freshmen and transfers. Held at the Greystone G&CC in Birmingham, UGA had its sights set on taking home an SEC crown. Alas, that was not to be.
A fourth place standing after day 1 only worsened, as the Bulldogs eventually finished in the middle of the pack in sixth. And with such a strong and deep first four on the squad, the poor team finish is consistent with the relatively poor finishes of the individuals. Junior Harang Lee finished tied for 16th as the low ‘Dawg, followed by freshman sensation Bailey Tardy tied for 23rd.
But that does not dampen their national standing nor rankings, as the team is now up to #6 in the nation (behind Bama, SoCal, UCLA, Duke, and UF). Additionally, Lee is ranked #2 in the individual rankings, followed by Tardy at #6 and fellow freshman Jillian Hollis at #26.
The Lady Dawgs have time to forget the forgettable SEC performance, as they will travel to regionals May 5th. 18 teams compete in each regional, with the top 6 from each regional advancing to NCAA Championships May 20th. Though it isn’t a given, they should expect to make nationals without too much trouble.
Foreshadowing: We won!!! As Mr. Sanchez told you in his latest "Between the Hedges" installment, Georgia stormed into the SECs and stormed out with a win. In very windy conditions at Sea Island (Seaside Course no less, which is always windy), Georgia led wire-to-wire with solid performances across the board.
This is Georgia’s 29th SEC title in program history, and the 8th for Hall of Famer Coach Chris Haack (but the first since 2010). And as stated in BTH, Senior Lee McCoy came away with low medalist honors for his 7th individual title during his Georgia career. This is the 16th time Georgia has captured the low medalist honors in the SEC Championships. Ya know, ‘cause we run this game. McCoy needed to two-putt the 18th and last hole Sunday to secure the win, but just went ahead and drained the 25 footer for birdie.
Georgia moves up to #5 in the nation behind Texas, SoCal, Illinois, and Stanford.
Side note: if you think golf is only for rich kids, check out Maverick McNealy playing for Stanford. Think about that last name, associate it with the "valley" near Palo Alto, and then you have your idea for what kind of money is floating around. Jokes aside, Maverick is legit.
Lee McCoy has also been named to the final 10 nominees for the Ben Hogan award, given annually to the best golfer in collegiate and/or amateur ranks. The 3 finalists will be named in 2 weeks, and McCoy will have serious consideration (3 wins, 4th place finish at PGA Valspar Championship, senior for SEC Champs and top 5 program, SEC Medalist, etc.). It will be interesting to see if McCoy turns pro this summer, or waits for the US Amateur in August. He was rumoured to have leaned strongly towards the PGA Tour and bags of money last year, but returned for his senior season. And a good decision it was considering his accomplishments in the last 7-8 months.
The men’s golf team will next travel May 16th to one of six NCAA Regionals, where the top 5 from each regional advance, thus giving 30 teams to the NCAA Championship field starting May 27th. The men should also expect to move on to nationals, looking to improve on last year's 3rd place finish.