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. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Arkansas golfer wins SEC individual title
Arkansas' Segundo Oliva Pinto won the individual title at the 2021 SEC Men's Golf Championships. (Photo courtesy Arkansas Athletics)
University of Arkansas golfer Segundo Oliva Pinto was benched in the Razorbacks' last tournament two weeks ago.
On Friday, he claimed the SEC men’s golf title.
Pinto surged to the lead with four birdies on the front nine and held on down the stretch to claim medalist honors with a 6-under 204 in windy conditions at the Sea Island Golf and Country Club in St. Simons Island, Ga. Pinto won by two shots over Georgia’s Spencer Ralston.
“Golf is a crazy sport,” Pinto said. “I couldn’t break the top 50 in the spring in any tournament, then I got benched last week so I could practice and get my swing together. Now I’m an SEC champion, so it means a lot to me.
"It means the hard work has paid off because I’ve been doing 6, 7, 8 hours a day non-stop.”
Pinto fired a 2-under 68 on the Seaside Course on Friday after giving up the 36-hole lead to Ralston with a double bogey on the 18th on Thursday.
“The 18th didn’t affect me at all,” Pinto said. “I thought on that last hole I did everything I could but it just didn’t work out. I thought I might as well be fighting from the back.
“It’s easier to win when you’re one shot back than when you’re leading. Most of my wins have come from being behind.”
Pinto has taken medalist honors in his last two conference championships after claiming the Colonial Athletic Association title as a freshman in 2019.
Pinto became the Razorbacks’ third SEC individual champion, following Bud Still (1996) and Sebastian Cappelen (2014), who also won at Sea Island Golf and Country Club.
The junior from Cordoba, Argentina, carded birdies on Nos. 1, 4, 7 and 9 and had one bogey to seize the lead. On the back nine, Pinto gave one stroke back with a bogey on the par 3 12th, but he posted six consecutive pars to close out stroke play.
The Razorbacks fell back three spots to fifth place with an 8 over team score to qualify for match play. Arkansas will tee off on No. 10 vs. 4 seed LSU at 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
The Arkansas lineup will be senior William Buhl, followed by junior Julian Perico, senior Tyson Reeder, Pinto and freshman Manuel Lozada.
Buhl tied for 20th at 4 over, while Perico carded a 2-over 72 on Friday to tie for 39th (+8). Reeder and Lozada were in a tie for 44th at 9 over.
No. 10 Georgia, the highest-ranked team in the SEC, shot a 3 under on Friday to win stroke play by eight shots. The Bulldogs will face 8 seed Texas A&M at 6:30 on the first tee.
No. 19 Tennessee, No. 23 LSU and Alabama tied for second place at 10 under. The other qualifiers for match play were No. 15 Vanderbilt (+13), South Carolina (+15) and No. 11 Texas A&M (+15), which fired a 3 under on Friday.
The other quarterfinal matches will tee off at 7:20 a.m., with Alabama facing South Carolina on No. 1 and Tennessee taking on Vanderbilt on No. 10.
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