April 9, 2014 11:01:41 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
WEST POINT -- Barrett Edens and the Mississippi State men's golf team needed something special to happen Tuesday at the Old Waverly Country Club.
The fifth-year senior from Amory made sure MSU received its wish, leading the team to a second-consecutive 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 hadn't had an under-par round in a month, but he 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 to tie the individual medalist honors with Austin Peay's Marco Iten at 9-under-par 207. Edens, whose career-best finish was a tie 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 for 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 everything clicked," but he sank 14 birdies in his final two rounds after having only 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 a tournament win could happen at any time if I kept this up," Edens said. "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 in the final two rounds after it was tied for 10th after 18 holes. Homan believed a comeback was possible because of the team's 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."
MSU edges Cincinnati by a stroke with a 5-under-par 859, which was eight shots better than its total last year when it beat Alabama-Birmingham in a playoff.
"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."
Cincinnati was near the lead and Monday's disqualification of Baxter Reeves' first round 70 cost it what would've been a two-shot win. Reeves was disqualified after he signed an incorrect scorecard after his 3-under-par 69 in the first round. Reeves totaled a 70 on his scorecard but 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.
In the second round, South Alabama's Blake Kelley became the first golfer in the tournament's history to ace the 173-yard, par-three No. 12.
Also for MSU, senior Joe Sakulpolphaisan finished 35th, sophomore Ben Wood was 41st, and senior Axel Boasson took 55th.
The victory Tuesday gives MSU confidence as it approaches the home stretch of the season that includes the Southeastern Conference Championship and a possible 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. We want a chance to play for the national title. Just give us and this program that chance."
In what likely was the last time he'll play Old Waverly as an amateur, Chad Ramey shot a 5-under-par 67 and moved up 23 spots to finish tied for seventh. Ramey finished his final three holes of round two with a double bogey and a bogey, but he 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."
Ole Miss junior Blake Morris fired a 2-under par 70 and finished third with an 8-under 208. The Rebels entered the final round leading the tournament, but they finished 2-over par Tuesday and took third (2-under 862).
Junior Joe Lewis, who tied for 22nd place, carded his best finish of the season, posting a score of 2-over 218. Senior Tom Brown tied for 28th after firing a 3-under 69.
Freshman Noah West, who tied for 35th, posted a 5-over par 221. Sophomore Connor Davis tied for 55th with a 223.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.