Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Hogs hope Columbia course is blessing
Taylor Moore blasts out of a sandtrap near the 8th green in the fourth round of the Western Amatuer at the Alotian Club in Roland on Aug. 2, 2013.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The No. 19 Arkansas men's golf team figures the zoysia fairways and bent-grass greens on their home course, The Blessings, will help them this weekend at the NCAA Columbia Regional at The Club at Old Hawthorne in Columbia, Mo.
Missouri's home course, where Arkansas will tee off at 8:20 a.m. today, has the same grasses as The Blessings.
Arkansas Men’s Golf
What NCAA Columbia Regional, 54-hole qualifier for NCAA Championships
When Today through Saturday
Where The Club at Old Hawthorne, Columbia, Mo.
Regional seeds: 1 Oklahoma State, 2. Virginia, 3. LSU, 4. Arkansas, 5. Arizona State, 6. Iowa, 7. San Diego State, 8. Missouri
Noteworthy The Club at Old Hawthorne, is a par 72 which plays at 7,221 yards from its tournament tees with a course rating of 74.8. … The Razorbacks have won one NCAA Regional (1991) and have finished second three times (1992, 2009, 2012). … Arkansas has advanced to the NCAA championships 19 times, three times under Coach Brad McMakin with a top finish of second in 2009. … Senior Sebastian Cappelen leads Arkansas with nine top-20 finishes in 11 tournaments this year, while sophomore Taylor Moore tops the club with five top-10 showings.
Arkansas’ projected lineup: Sebastian Cappelen (71.6 stroke average), Taylor Moore (72.6), Kolton Crawford (74.0), Nicolas Echavarria (74.3), Zach Coates (76.4).
"It's going to matter for sure in the end," Arkansas senior Sebastian Cappelen said. "For us, definitely the greens are important. But chipping out of zoysia, it'll probably save us a couple of shots a person, which will probably end up being the shot or two that we need."
Arkansas will be paired with Arizona State and Iowa in the opening round of the 54-hole NCAA qualifier in its attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the third time in eight seasons under Coach Brad McMakin. The low five teams from each of six NCAA regionals will advance to the championships, which will be held May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
No. 2 Oklahoma State is the top seed at the Columbia regional, followed by No. 9 Virginia, No. 24 LSU, Arkansas, Arizona State, Iowa, San Diego State and host Missouri.
The Razorbacks have steadied their performances since losing No. 2 player Thomas Sorenson, who elected to return to his native Denmark and turn pro in early March.
"Everyone's playing solid," sophomore Nicolas Echavarria said. "It's all about the postseason. The other tournaments matter, but still, making nationals is what it's all about."
Cappelen, Arkansas' all-time stroke-average leader at 71.9, said he's happy with the team's state of mind.
"Considering that Thomas left out of nowhere, I think we've managed to get it really well together," said Cappelen, who has a team-best 71.6 average per round this season. "We have five guys that can really play well."
McMakin said freshman Zach Coates has come on in recent weeks and will join Cappelen and sophomores Taylor Moore, Echavarria and Kolton Crawford in the lineup this weekend.
"He counted two rounds at the Aggie [Invitational], which was nice," McMakin said. "If he can give us that same kind of production he's given us the last two weeks, he'll do a good job.
"He's a good player and I like the way he handles himself. He's a good putter. He won't lose any shots on the greens. If he drives the ball well, he'll play real well."
The Razorbacks advanced to the NCAAs as the second-place finisher behind Illinois in the Fayetteville Regional last year before coming up one stroke short of advancing to the eight-team match play final rounds.
"I think it's just motivation for us, because we all know we just had it," Cappelen said. "We played well enough. It was so tight, just one shot. We all know it's not going to happen again, so that's good for us."
Sports on 05/15/2014