March 18, 2011 8:23:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State golfer Axel Boasson ended the fall semester as a promising freshman the Bulldogs thought they would rely on in the spring.
Consistency had been lacking from his game, though he''d flashed the ability to fire sub-par rounds in the fall.
The native of Iceland averaged 73.4 per round in three fall matches, but in the spring season he didn''t make the squad for the Gator Invitational and played as an individual at the Mobile Bay Invitational.
Boasson''s breakthrough came at Mobile, where he finished with a three-round 225. If Boasson had been on the squad, he would have tied for 41st.
The performance was enough for coach Clay Homan to include the long-ball striker on his squad last week for the Seminole Intercollegiate in Tallahassee, Fla. Boasson responded with a career-best 216 and a career-best single-round score of 70 to tie for 18th. His final score was the Bulldogs'' lowest this spring, and his performance helped the Bulldogs finish seventh out of 18 teams.
"He''s always given us the ability to shoot at or around par," Homan said. "But day in and day out, he was lacking consistency needed to make the squad. Last qualifying round, we had five rounds and he won by several shots. I always felt like he needed to get in the lineup to get experience because in time he''ll be able to shoot low numbers and help us tremendously."
Homan said Boasson has worked on distance control with his wedges and irons, but he lauds the 6-foot-2 player''s ability to maximize lengthy fairways off the tee to set up solid second shots. Although distance control is still a work in progress, Homan said Boasson is improving each week.
"The shots he threw away last weekend were because of distance control, which weren''t many," Homan said. "He''ll understand and adjust. It''s all about maturity, and he''s still a young guy."
Consistency hasn''t just been an issue for Boasson, who will be one of five MSU players who will compete this weekend at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational at Statesboro, Ga.
Homan has seen sophomore Brad Mason lead MSU in three of five tournaments in the fall to make the spring team''s travel squad once -- a 38th-place finish at Mobile.
Fellow sophomore John Darden fired a 217 at the Gator Invitational and finished tied for 19th, but has been inconsistent. Darden had rounds of 77 and 79 before rebounding with a final round 70 at Mobile. He didn''t travel to Tallahassee.
"He''s just one of those guys who is on the bubble around four or five," Homan said. "When he plays well, he plays really well. But 78s and 79s won''t help us. With him, it''s all putting."
Freshman Chad Ramey could be the missing link to MSU taking a major step forward, especially if Boasson can continue his fine form through the end of the season. Ramey led the Bulldogs with a 71.7 average in the fall and had three rounds of 69 or lower. He hasn''t come close to those rounds this spring, though Homan is encouraged by his 219 score at the Seminole Invitational.
"He''s taken a little of a step back, even though everyone''s average goes up in the spring because of weather," Homan said. "Twenty-ninth (place) was a good finish, but as good as he strikes the ball, he should finish better. That''s as bad as he should ever finish. Six over for Chad is average."
Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky will be in the field today at Statesboro.
---- Roos breaks through at LSU
Women''s golf coach Ginger Brown-Lemm isn''t afraid to say Maria Roos has underperformed this spring.
That was before the Swedish sophomore turned in a career-day last weekend at the LSU Golf Classic. Roos finished 10-over par, which was 15 strokes better than senior Erika Thornton, who finished second for MSU. Roos recorded three of the Bulldogs'' four rounds under 80.
Prior to LSU, Roos has rounds of 84, 80, and 80 at the Sir Pizza Cards Challenge in Weston, Fla.
For a player who had been struggling off the tee, Brown-Lemm was surprised to see Roos gain control at a course that taxed seniors Thornton and Mallory Batson, who finished at 241 and 248, respectively.
"She finally got her driver to be a consistent direction," Brown-Lemm said. "She''s been working with VJ Trolio out at (Old) Waverly (West Point), and it just clicked. Sometimes you hit that point where things turn the corner. Mentally she just demanded it of herself.
"It''s a combination of ball-striking and the mental management of the game for her. She has the talent, but you have to know where the ball''s going and having the confidence to manage yourself around the course."
The course at LSU was recently renovated and presented extremely challenging greens, which produced an average team score of more than 300 from top 25 teams Alabama, Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
Brown-Lemm wants her players, who combined to average 321 at LSU, not to let their performances at LSU affect them and to consider the hardness of the greens and the movement it created on the putting surfaces.
"I know it will sound like a cop-out, but the course renovation and green complexes showed when the average score was a 79 each day," Brown-Lemm said. "With all the talented teams there, that''s a good sign the course made a lot of people struggle. Over the course of time, it breaks you emotionally. You hit a great shot, then finish with a double or triple (bogey). We''ve got to put that one behind us."
Roos had plenty of positives to take away from LSU that should help her prepare for the John Kirk/Panther Intercollegiate, which begins Monday in Stockbridge, Ga.
Brown-Lemm said there''s no way to tell if Roos'' performance at LSU was a sign she''ll play at that level the rest of the season.
"A lot of that will hinge on her," she said. "I try to instill confidence and decision-making criteria they can run through before they shoot. But it''s them out there swinging. In the fall, she had the lowest putting average. Now, her length is becoming an asset. It''s more getting the job done versus mechanical issues."
---- Spring break comes at pivotal time for women''s tennis team
Nursing injuries for much of the spring, women''s tennis coach Daryl Greenan was relieved to see his team have its first week off of the season.
Coming off a 6-1 loss to LSU after Olesya Tsigvintseva and Mariia Ryzhova didn''t practice that week due to injuries, Greenan hopes the spring break will help his players recover.
Tsigvintseva is still bothered by a shoulder injury, while Ryzhova, who plays No. 2 singles, has sore knees. Roseline Dion is battling shin splints and is on crutches this week.
Greenan said he''s told the injured players to take two or three days off and then just try to move around some. He also encouraged them to try to do a little bit of cardio work before they return to practice Saturday.
The only constant this spring has been freshman Alexandra Perper, who beat No. 52 Whitney Wolf of LSU (0-6, 6-3, 7-5) last Sunday.
Perper is 5-5 in singles this spring after arriving on campus in January.
"I knew she had a game that she could pull off big wins at number one," Greenan said. "Early on, she established herself even though she was a mid-year freshman. I''m not too surprised she''s where she''s at.
"I think it''s exciting for everybody and it does push the other girls. She''s been a highlight even though it''s been a rough year."
MSU returns to the court March 25 to face South Carolina.