Golf falters in Arizona Tournament
The Rice golf team stumbled out of the blocks this spring, finishing 15th out of a field of 17 at the Arizona Intercollegiate in Tuscon, Ariz. Despite high expectations and strong finish in the fall, Rice shot an opening round 313 (+29) from which they could not recover. The Owls improved their scores in the final two rounds but were unable to climb onto the leaderboard.Rice will now turn its attention to its home event, the Rice Intercollegiate, on Feb. 16-17. The Owls will hold the ninth annual edition of its tournament at the Westwood Golf Club and will host a field that includes North Carolina State University, the University of the Pacific and Houston Baptist University. NC State will be one of the strongest squads in the tournament, as it is ranked nationally in the top 25 and also boasts one of the nation's top individual golfers in fifth-ranked sophomore Matt Hill. Rice will be looking to overcome the Wolfpack and bounce back from its disappointing result at the Arizona tournament.
Rice's first-round performance was dismal, as the team immediately fell to the back of the field after shooting 29 over par. Sophomore Michael Whitehead, who shot a one-over-par 72, provided one of the few highlights for the team in the first round. Whitehead would finish the tournament 11 over par, good enough to tie for 44th place.
The Owls improved their play in the second round, shooting 294 (+10). Rice could not pass many teams, however, and remained in the lower part of the field. Whitehead and senior Kyle Kelley led Rice in the second round, both shooting two over par for the round.
Play was suspended in the middle of the second round because of darkness and concluded Tuesday morning. The beginning of the third round was delayed due to the late conclusion of the second round.
Despite the extra holes on Tuesday, head coach Drew Scott (Wiess '98) said he did not feel that the suspension had any effect on his team's performance.
"We only had three holes to go, so I didn't feel as if there were any ill effects from the delay," Scott said. "We played steady to start the day on Tuesday but blew up at the end of the final round, and I don't think you can really blame the suspension for that."
Rice finished the tournament shooting 300 (+16), dropping back to fifteenth. Despite the team's weak play in the final round, sophomore transfer Robert Burrow played well, shooting a five under par 66 to finish tied for 58th despite his woeful opening round, in which he shot an 87. Burrow's had six birdies during his strong finish, including two back-to-back ones on the first two holes. His score fell one shot short of the all-time Rice record of 65.
Pepperdine University won the tournament, finishing with a three over par 855. San Diego State University and the University of Tennessee finished second and third, respectively. Chris Paisley of Tennessee placed first overall, posting a score of 201 (-12).
Despite the team's disappointing performance, Scott has high expectations for the team's upcoming home event.
"If we play our best, we can win the tournament," he said. "We're one of the best teams in the field, and add on the fact that we're playing on our home course, we feel that we have a bit of an edge over the other teams.
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