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Golf Season Ends, ‘Dawgs Look to Future in Athens and Beyond

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The University of Georgia had both its Women’s and Men’s Golf teams qualify for the national championship tournament. Sadly, neither advanced to the championship match play rounds. Yet both acquitted themselves well, and both will return stars from the 2021 post-season.

The Women’s team under Coach Josh Brewer made their 23rd appearance in the national tournament, having won the whole shootin’ match in 2001 (20th anniversary). To qualify, the Bulldogs won the Columbus (OH) regional and Jenny Bae ran away with medalist honors. Out of 24 teams in stroke play at nationals, the Bulldogs placed 18th at Greyhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. The final tally may have been disappointing, but making it back to Nationals for the first time since 2016 is step in the right direction.

Not to mention the five competing Bulldogs are returning to Athens next season. Junior Jenny Bae paced the ‘Dawgs finishing 59th overall and was named 2nd team All-SEC. Jo Hua Hung is also a Junior, and qualified for the US Women’s Open this summer. Sophomore Caterina Don faltered a bit after a hot 2020, but has competed worldwide and has made the cut in both editions of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Fellow soph Candice Mahe’ also comes back and also played at the ANWA this spring. And sneaking into the lineup was Freshman Isabella Holpfer, who made the top 100 at the NCAAs.

The Men’s team is similarly historically strong at the NCAA Tournament. Finishing his 25th season as coach of the Classic City Canines, Chris Haack has made the nationals 20 of those years. 1999 and 2005 finished with Dawgs on Top, and there are a pair of runner-ups as well. With the still relatively new format, 30 total teams make the nationals, the field is cut to the top 15 after three days of stroke play, and the top 8 after 4 rounds make the match play quarterfinals.

Our boys made it to 16th, a single stroke out of a playoff for the cut. But Senior Davis Thompson and Junior Trent Phillips did advance to the individual finals and finished in 34th place overall. 5th Year Senior Spencer Ralston has finished his UGA career, but returning are Conor Creasy (So.), Eli Scott (Jr.), and the aforementioned Trent Phillips. So things are looking good for #CountryClubU.

As foreshadowed in the title, at least one of these Bulldogs already has his summer schedule set. But this time, for cash. And not just NIL-crypto, but comically oversized golf tournament checks.

Davis Thompson ends one of the better golf careers in UGA history, having won the 2021 SEC Golfer of the Year and his 2nd All-American honor. That’s after winning medalist honors at NCAA Regionals a couple of weeks ago. So that’s good. You know what else is? In the inaugural PGA Tour University (sponsored by the PGA Tour and designed to give college senior golfers a reward for staying in school), Thompson places 2nd overall and is now fully exempt for the rest of the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour season (think AAA baseball). He not only gets paid for his performance, he could advance to the PGA Tour with a strong summer and early fall.

So a big congrats to all the ladies and fellas for a strong spring season, and for setting the stage for a strong 2022 spring. And a special hat tip to Davis Thompson - a DGD and hopefully another name I’ll be typing in the near future editions of ‘Dawgs on Tour. And as always...