April 16, 2018 9:20:44 AM
WEST POINT -- The state's top teams will join a strong field today at the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship.
The two-day event will feature the Mississippi State men's golf team in its regular-season finale. Ole Miss and Southern Mississippi also will compete in two rounds today and a final round Tuesday on the par 72, 7,000-yard course.
MSU will look to build off of three-straight top-five finishes, including a season-best second place at the Bighorn Invitational.
"This is a special week for our program," MSU men's golf coach Dusty Smith said. "Old Waverly Golf Club is a huge part of our program and we are so grateful to be able to host a great event on our home course. We are looking forward to competing in front of our home crowd this week."
Chattanooga, Coastal Carolina, Lipscomb, Little Rock, Louisiana, Louisiana Monroe, LSU, Louisiana Tech, McNeese, Memphis, South Alabama, and South Florida will round out the field.
Sophomore Peng Pichaikool, senior Taylor Grant and sophomore Garrett Johnson have played in all of MSU's events in 2017-18 and are in Smith's lineup for the 10th time this season. Senior Taylor Bibbs and freshman Cameron Clarke fill out the lineup, the same one that cruised to the third-best 54-hole finish in program history at the Bighorn Invitational in March.
All five of MSU's golfers finished in the top 25 at the Bighorn Invite.
Grant has three-straight top-10 finishes and three-straight tournaments with an eagle going into the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship. He shot a career-best 65 in his last round at the Bighorn Invite.
MSU juniors Ross Bell and Austin Rose, senior Jacob Ross, redshirt freshman Griffin Agent, and freshmen Hunter Hammett and Austin Fulton will all play as individuals.
No. 34 Ole Miss is one of three teams in the field ranked top 50 in Golfstat's national poll (No. 10 LSU, No. 20 South Florida).
Beau Briggs, Josh Seiple, Kerry Sweeney, Braden Thornberry, and Cecil Wegener will play for Ole Miss. Sophomore Chip Getz will also compete as an individual.
Briggs has played in seven of the team's nine tournaments this season, last appearing in the lineup when the Rebels captured the Hootie at Bulls Bay (March 25-27).
Seiple is playing his best golf as Ole Miss nears postseason play. The redshirt junior has a pair of top-15 finishes in the last two tournaments, posting a 70.50 stroke average during that stretch. Sweeney, the lone senior on the squad, holds the second lowest stroke average on the team (73.13).
At last year's Old Waverly Collegiate Championship, Sweeney fired a 67 in the second round for the Rebels' lowest round of the tournament.
Thornberry enters the week as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ben Hogan Award, an honor given to the best collegiate golfer in the country. The No. 1 ranked amateur in the world (Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com) became the first golfer in school history to become a Ben Hogan Award semifinalist. Thornberry has paced the Rebel golfers in all five tournaments this spring as well as eight of nine throughout the season. His stroke average of 69.81 ranks third in the SEC and 14th nationally.
Wegner, a three-time SEC Freshman of the Week, produced his first career top-10 finish when he helped Ole Miss win the Hootie at Bulls Bay. While his 54-hole total of 212 (69-76-67) was a career low at the time, a new personal best was set at the Gary Koch Invitational. Wegener used a pair of 67s to help fire a 211, leading Ole Miss in two of the three rounds and placing 10th individually for the second tournament in a row.
"Playing in our home state is the perfect way to wrap up our regular season before we head to Sea Island for the SEC Championship," Ole Miss coach Chris Malloy said. "We always enjoy coming over to Old Waverly, as our team has some familiarity with the course. It's important for us to play three rounds of solid golf so we can take that consistency into next week."
The Rebels are playing in the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship for the sixth straight season. Ole Miss has placed in the tournament's top three each of the past four years. Last season, the Rebels finished in third when the tournament was shortened to 36 holes.
Nathan Corchis, Matt Codd, Brian Richards, Philip Heine, and Willie Hammond will play for Southern Miss. It is the first career start for Heine, who is from Madison.
Admission to the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship is free for all guests.
Live scoring will be available all tournament long via Golfstat.
This will be the final tune-up for MSU, Ole Miss, and LSU prior to the SEC Championship next weekend at Sea Island, Georgia.
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