Mississippi State senior Barrett Edens waves to the crowd after making a birdie on the 18th hole Tuesday at Old Waverly Country Club. Edens tied for medalist honors as MSU won the team competition at Old Waverly Collegiate. Photo by: MSU athletics media relations
April 9, 2014 10:51:59 AM
WEST POINT -- Barrett Edens and the Mississippi State men's golf team needed something special to happen. It absolutely did on Tuesday at Old Waverly Country Club.
The fifth-year senior from Amory led MSU to a second consecutive team victory in the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship. Edens started the day five shots off the individual lead but a bogey-free, 7-under-par 65 catapulted him to his first career victory. Edens had not had an under par round in competition for the last month but said Tuesday he felt he was striking the ball better than his scores indicated.
"One of those days where just everything had to go my way including playing well and getting a little good luck finally," Edens said. "Monday I had a lot of putts just burn the edges of holes and the thing about golf is if those putts fall, you'll be in contention to win. Today they finally fell for me at my favorite course"
Edens birdied two of his final three holes Tuesday to tie the individual medalist honors with Austin Peay's Marco Iten at 9-under-par 207. Edens, whose career best finish was tied for seventh before Tuesday, birdied four of his first six holes after finishing round two early in the morning.
"It's a golf course that fits his game and he just let it happen today and that's how you win tournaments," MSU coach Clay Homan said. "The times you put a lot of pressure on yourself isn't when it happens. I was proud of Barrett of him being able to fight through any nerves that can happen when you're going that low in a particular day."
Edens couldn't recall when the moment occurred "when everything clicked" but he sank 14 birdies in his final two rounds, after only knocking in one his opening round.
"I didn't really surprise myself by how I played because I was happy with how I was playing for the last few weeks and knew that a tournament win could happen at any time if I kept this up," Edens said. "At least, I was hopeful it could happen because I was running out of chances before I was done with my experience at MSU."
MSU won its first team title of the season by shooting 13-under-par over the final two rounds after a disappointing start to the tournament that left the Bulldogs tied for 10th after 18 holes. Homan still believed a comeback was possible because he was relying on veteran senior leadership.
"I knew these guys were capable of shooting good scores out here and know how to play Old Waverly," Homan said. "You just feel good about sending four seniors out there to a golf course they've all seen hundreds of times."
The Bulldogs nipped Cincinnati by a single stroke with a winning total of 5-under-par 859, which is eight shots better than MSU shot last year to win the tournament in a playoff with Alabama-Birmingham.
"I think the best thing to happen for this team was playing about 33 holes Monday because that first 18 holes for all of us was something we had to immediately wipe away and find a way to play better in the second round," Edens said. "After the first two rounds, we knew we were in fifth but five or shots back and that can change over one hole in college team golf. It was more than doable at that point."
The Bearcats were near the lead and Monday's disqualification of Baxter Reeves' first round 70 costs Cincinnati what would've been a two-shot win. Reeves was disqualified after he signed an incorrect scorecard after his three-under-par 69 in the first round. Reeves totaled a 70 on his scorecard but actually wrote down a five instead of a six on the par-5 16th hole. Reeves even put a box, the common signal for a bogey, around the five on his scorecard but rules dictated he be immediately disqualified from the first round.
The second round finished with excitement as South Alabama's Blake Kelley became the first golfer in the tournament's history to ace a hole, after knocking it in the 173-yard, par-three No.12 in the second round.
Rounding out the Maroon and White scorecard from Old Waverly was senior Joe Sakulpolphaisan (35th), sophomore Ben Wood (41st) and senior Axel Boasson (55th).
The tournament victory Tuesday gives MSU much more confident as it approaches its final month of the season that includes the Southeastern Conference Championship and what they hope is a NCAA Regional berth.
"It is basically the same team we had last year and we needed some positive momentum to help us because going into this week, we stood around 57th in the country and we all know we're a better team than that," Homan said. "Today we finally showed it. Now we want a chance to play for the national title. Just give us and this program that chance."
MSU takes a tournament with a field of nine schools that qualified for NCAA Regionals last year and will have the same positive vibes at its next event as they are the defending champions of the BancorpSouth Intercollegiate in Madison, Miss., on April 14-15. The Bulldogs won the Intercollegiate last season with an 18-under-par 846. 10 days after the tournament in Madison, MSU will compete at the SEC Championships in St. Simons Island, Ga.
Ole Miss junior Blake Morris fell one stroke behind a MSU player for the second time this season as he finished second to Joe Sakulpolphaisan in the season-opening Sam Hall Intercollegiate hosted by Southern Mississippi. The Rebels came into the final round leading the tournament but finished with a disappointing 2-over-par day in much friendlier scoring conditions Tuesday.
In the last time he'll play Old Waverly competitively as a collegiate and likely as an amateur, Chad Ramey responded with a 5-under-par 67 to allow him to move up 23 spots on the leaderboard and finish tied for seventh. Ramey finished his final three holes of round two with a double bogey and a bogey but birdied four of his first 10 holes to get himself into a Top 10 finish.
"Barrett and Chad took this team on their back and decided we weren't going to lose," Homan said. "That's what seniors are supposed to do and I'm thrilled for them to play so well in their final round at this home tournament."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
5. A Stone's Throw: Bridge work COLUMNS