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Thursday, August 18, 2022 — Houston, TX

Golf has rough start, now travels to Arlington

By Paul Fitzgerald     9/16/10 7:00pm

Looking to get off to a fast start for their fall campaign, the golf team stumbled to a 13th-place finish at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate, hosted last Monday and Tuesday by the University of Southern Mississippi at the Hattiesburg Country Club in Hattiesburg, Miss. Despite their performance, Rice's improvement throughout the event gave cause for optimism. This year's version of the golf team features two freshmen hoping to replace some of the production of last year's seniors, Christopher Brown (Baker '10) and Michael Buttacavoli (Martel '10), and Jade Scott, last year's Conference USA freshman of the year, who transferred to Texas A&M University following the spring season. Head Coach Drew Scott knew replacing the talent would be a difficult task, and the first round of the Sam Hall Intercollegiate only confirmed his suspicions.

"Getting a couple new guys in the lineup is always a process," Scott said. "We made some progress, and I think the freshmen took everything well."

Senior Michael Whitehead, coming off an appearance at the 2010 U.S. Amateur Golf Tournament at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash. on Aug. 23-29, led the Owls with a one-over 72. Whitehead would go on to post a second-round 74 and final-round 71 en route to a tie for 40th. Rice's first-round score of 301 left them at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Despite their poor opening performance, the Owls improved in the second round, led by senior Robert Burrow's 71 and junior Erik Mayer's 72. Burrow and Mayer would go on to finish in a tie for 62nd and sole possession of 70th, respectively. Rice's second-round performance would leave them near the bottom of the leaderboard again.

Freshman Jeff Wibawa, one of two newcomers to the team, shot a final-round 68, the Owls' low round of the event, to move him into a tie for 40th. Despite playing in his first tournament, the calm and collected player from Encino, Calif. played without nerves.

"I wasn't really nervous in any the rounds," Wibawa said. "I was able to hit the fairway in the latter rounds and that was the key to my score."

If the Owls' most highly touted recruit's performance in his first collegiate tournament is any indication, the team should have found another solid contributor. Fellow freshman Chris Contreras shot a cumulative 227 and his score counted for two of the three rounds.

While Scott acknowledged the Owls were disappointed in their finish, he thought next week's event was the right situation for the team to succeed.

"The finish wasn't what we wanted, but we made good progress," Scott said. "We're looking forward to this week and traveling to Arlington, [Texas,] where we won last year, so hopefully we can use those good feelings."

Rice will look to continue their improvement at the UTA/Waterchase Invitational hosted by the University of Texas-Arlington. The event, held at the Waterchase Golf Club, will be one of two where the Owls will have a chance to defend their title from last year. While three of the five Rice golfers to travel to Arlington last year are no longer on the team, this year's squad still is eager to make it two straight Rice victories in this tournament.

"We were able to win at Arlington last year, so that's obviously the goal again," Wibawa said. "As a team, our play improved throughout the tournament so we want to continue that this coming tournament.

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