Top golf teams converge at The Blessings

By: Ethan Westerman
Published: Monday, October 4, 2021
Arkansas golfer Brooke Matthews waits to putt on the first hole green Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, during the third day of the inaugural Blessings Collegiate Invitational at the Blessings Golf Club in Johnson.
( David Gottschalk)
Arkansas golfer Brooke Matthews waits to putt on the first hole green Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, during the third day of the inaugural Blessings Collegiate Invitational at the Blessings Golf Club in Johnson.

JOHNSON — For the second year in a row, Northwest Arkansas will welcome some of the nation’s top collegiate golfers for The Blessings Collegiate Invitational at The Blessings Golf Club.

The 54-hole stroke play invitational, which will run today through Wednesday, is one of the most unique events on the college golf calendar, with both men’s and women’s teams competing at the same time. Not only will team and individual winners be crowned champions, but it also features a combined men’s and women’s program title.

The tournament is loaded with ranked programs on both sides of play. Seven men’s and six women’s teams in the GolfStat top 25 rankings highlight a strong field.

Both hosting University of Arkansas teams sit in the top 10, with the women ranked No. 1 and the men at No. 8 in national polls.

Arkansas’ Brooke Matthews of Rogers looks to defend her individual title from a year ago and lead the team to its second consecutive BCI title. Matthews is currently the top-rated women’s college golfer by Golfweek/Sagarin, and the No. 20 amateur in the world.

She is fresh off the best single 54-hole performance in NCAA history. On Sept. 13-14, Matthews finished at 25-under at the Cougar Classic in Charleston, S.C., shattering the previous record by six strokes.

“When they told me the record, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,’ ” Matthews told Golfweek following the feat. “That’s bigger than something I could have thought I would’ve accomplished in college golf, so it was really cool.”

The 10-team BCI field will also include Arizona, Houston, Illinois, Louisville, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas Tech and UCLA.

Reigning women’s national champion Ole Miss and the top-ranked North Carolina men spotlight the powerful lineup.

The Arkansas men opened the fall season with a third-place showing at the Carmel Cup behind Oklahoma State and Oklahoma on Sept. 5.

Mateo Fernandez de Olivera tied for third in that event for his fourth top 10 finish, while Wil Gibson tied for 10th. Razorbacks Julian Perico and Segundo Oliva Pinto finished with 67s to tie for 17th and Luke Long placed 27th.

Complimentary admission for spectators will be provided for the first time. Golf Channel will broadcast the event live each day from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and live scoring will be available on golfstat.com.

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