Golf team places 10th at Border
Fighting cold temperatures, gusting winds and driving rain all three rounds, the golf team gutted out a 10th-place finish in one of the strongest fields they have faced all year. Rice's three-round score of 902 (+38) tied the Owls with 36th-ranked Vanderbilt University at the Border Olympics, held this week in Laredo, Texas. The Owls next travel to Austin for the Morris Williams Intercollegiate, which runs March 30-31. The tournament, hosted by the University of Texas, features a field headlined by third-ranked Oklahoma State University, Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M University. The Owls have 15 days between tournaments and will look to use the time to try and regroup as a team following a period in which they played two tournaments in six days.
Sophomore Robert Burrow expected the team to practice intensely looking forward to a strong field.
"I expect the team to prepare hard during our two weeks off," Burrow said. "Texas's field will be one of the strongest we'll ever face, and I expect all of us to relish the opportunity to compete against such a strong group of teams."
Rice opened the Border Olympics by shooting a 303 (+17), led by Burrow's 73. Burrow finished tied for 26th place with a cumulative score of 224 (+8). The Owls' first-round score placed them in a tie for 11th place with the University of Notre Dame.
The Owls second-round score of 300 (+14) put them in 13th place, ahead of only three squads. Sophomore Michael Whitehead's even-par 72 kept the Owls out of the cellar. Whitehead finished tied with Burrow with a three-round score of 224. Rice headed into the final round attempting to salvage something from their trip to Laredo.
Aided by junior Christopher Brown's 72 (E), the Owls shot a 299 (+13) to move up into a tie for 10th place. Brown's three-round score of 222 put him in a tie for 15th, the highest of any Rice golfer this weekend, earning him C-USA Golfer of the Week honors. Senior Kyle Kelley's 232 (+16) put him in a tie for 57th, aided by his low-round score in the second round of 76 (+4).
Baylor University won the Border Olympics with a three-round score of 877 (+13), thanks largely to the fact that their second-round score of 282 (-6) was the lowest of any team score in the tournament. Bobby Massa of University of Texas-Arlington won the tournament's individual title with a cumulative score of 211 (-5). Massa's second-round 66 was the low score of the tournament.
Burrow said Laredo's pounding by rain for all three rounds helped Rice.
"We knew going into the last round that the cold and rainy conditions would give us a chance to move up the leaderboard," Burrow said. "We had a great start to the day, but some trouble on the last few holes prevented us from moving up as far as we would've liked."
Despite their 10th-place finish, the Owls can take some positives away from their time at the Border Olympics. Rice tied Vanderbilt, a nationally-ranked team, and finished ahead of the University of North Texas. Though their at-large postseason chances took a hit, the Owls still must prepare for the conference tournament. The upcoming tournaments hosted by Texas and North Carolina State University will provide the Owls with the chance to compete against the nation's best squads.
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