Tom Murphy is a sports 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. He was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Blessings Collegiate Invitational begins Monday
Brad McMakin (right), Arkansas men's golf coach, speaks Tuesday, April 9, 2019, alongside Shauna Taylor, Arkansas women's golf coach, during a press conference at Blessings Golf Club in Johnson.
The University of Arkansas will host the fourth Blessings Collegiate Invitational Monday through Wednesday at Blessings Golf Club in Johnson.
The event, presented by Tyson Foods with the format of men’s and women’s teams, will include daily coverage from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the GOLF Channel. Admission and parking are free.
The Razorbacks, ranked third on the women’s side and 11th on the men’s side, will be joined by Clemson, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, North Texas, South Carolina and Washington.
“Playing at home is special for both programs,” Arkansas men’s golf coach Brad McMakin said. “We are so grateful to Mr. [John] Tyson for all he does for us and college golf. Also, having the GOLF Channel here will be a great way to showcase all the Blessings has to offer. The course is in fantastic shape and the greens will be rolling true and fast.”
Arkansas will field two sets of five players. One set will count for the team and individual titles, and another will be eligible to compete for individual medalist honors.
Tee times will start at approximately 8:45 a.m. each day of the event. The event is also unique in that each school will have all five members of its teams playing together. The men’s and women’s teams will also be playing the course at the same time, with the men taking on a 7,700-yard layout and the women playing a 6,422-yard course.
“To have the whole team playing in the same group makes it great for coaches, not having to go back-and-forth between the holes to be with the guys,” McMakin said. “That is also a perfect setup for fans. This format is great when a player gets hot because the teammates can feed off it.
“The key is just making sure if one guy is a little down that the team stays positive. Playing fivesomes make for a long day, but we know that patience and staying mentally focused when it does slow down is the key to success.”
After Wednesday’s final round, champions will be crowned for men’s team and individual, women’s team and individual, combined team score and combined low individuals.
The Arkansas women captured the first two titles in BCI competition and Mississippi State won last year. Alabama took the inaugural men’s title, followed with wins by Arkansas in 2021 and Texas A&M in 2022.
“At the beginning of the year we talked a lot about transitioning our thoughts to winning,” Arkansas women’s golf coach Shauna Taylor said, “and putting ourselves in contention to win. We have a squad that is really deep this year [and] I’ve been really impressed with qualifying numbers and really satisfied with how we played [at the Carmel Cup] in Pebble Beach.”
The Arkansas women’s lineup will consist of Miriam Ayora, Maria Jose Marin, Kajal Mistry, Kendall Todd and Reagan Zibilski on the top team and Ela Anacona, Giovanna Fernandez, Julia Gregg, Cory Lopez and Abbey Schutte competing as individuals.
The Arkansas men will feature Thomas Curry, John Daly II, John Driscoll III, Manuel Lozada and Jacob Skov Olesen competing for the team title and Christian Castillo, Kaelen Dulany, Matthew Griggs, Matthis Lefevre and Mateo Pulcini competing as individuals.
Ethan Westerman contributed
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