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Ole Miss golf 2018: The GAME OF THORNBERRIES takes on the entire SEC

Maester Bunkie Perkins is back with your preview of the SEC men’s golf championship.

Red Cup Rebellion is a golf blog now … at least it will be for the duration this spring as writer-crawlt-out-of-whatever-rock-he-was-under Bunkie Perkins loops for the Ole Miss Golf Team during their Spring 2018 season. This feature will preview the tournament, the courses, the Ole Miss golfers, and the field each week, but more in-damn-portantly, this feature will chronicle the exploits of Ole Miss’ REGINING, DEFENDING, NCDOUBLEA INDIVIDUAL LARGE ADULT GOLFING CHAMPION AND BY GAWD NUMBER ONE COLLEGE GOLFER IN THE SEVEN KINGDOMS ... BRADEN THORNBERRY, FROM CLUBHOUSE OXFORD, FIRST OF HIS NAME, KING OF THE 19th HOLE AND THE FIRST TEE, MAKER OF BIRDIES, THE BREAKER OF PARS, THE RULER AND PROTECTOR OF AN EXPEDITED PACE OF PLAY … LONG MAY HE DRIVE.

The last time we saw our heroes:

The closest thing to a home game finally showed up on the schedule last week, as the Links Rebs kept things “Mississippi Made” (TM © *Must credit Ole Miss Athletics Marketing, LLC) by heading to West Point for the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship hosted by the dastardly Agricultural and Mechanical school near about those parts. THE GOLFERS UP NORTH came out a house of fire in the first two rounds of play. A cumulative score of -4 in round one, backed up by a 1 under team score in round two had the Rebels at the top of the team leaderboard by 5 strokes over No. 10 LSU.

TEDDY GOLF GAME was his normal birdie-making self. A workmanlike 71 in the first round, followed up by a blistering 5 under 67 in the second round, pushed our guy to the top of the individual leaderboard after day one. LORD BRADEN wasn’t the only Rebel to post low scores on the first day. In a bit of a surprise, Junior Beau Briggs fired off rounds of 71 and 73 to sit in the top 10 at even par after day one. Almost equaling Briggs’ performance was Kerry Sweeney, who went 70-75 to get into the Top 10 with a +1 cumulative score. Freshman rising star Cecil Wegener wasn’t far behind after posting 72-75 and a top 15 +3 score for the first day. Rounding out the scoring for the squad, Josh Seiple came in with a +8 and Chip Getz finished up at +7.

All looked promising for the Rebels. Another team title looked like a more than willing possibility heading into the final round … and then everybody got to the back 9.

I won’t go into the salacious details, but let’s just say there were some sevens and eights on the card coming down the stretch that did not help the team’s effort. Couple that with the LSU squad finally waking up and firing a team -11 on the final day, and the Rebels found themselves falling from the top spot and settling in for a third place finish at a team score of +9.

All was not lost, as our guy OLD BRADENLY did what he likes to do, damn near lapping the field on his way to a five-shot individual title win at -12 under. The individual title is his fourth this season and 11th overall. The win also got him another “SEC Golfer of the Week” plaque for the back of his closet, or wherever he keeps his pile of redundant accolades.

Golfweek Rankings: Team: 32nd; Individual: TED THEODORE BEN HOGAN: SEVENTH.

This Week’s Tournament:

CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK! The squad makes its way to the postseason with a trip to Georgia to commiserate with the Sea Island Mafia at the SEC Championship. Stroke play round Wednesday through Friday, then match play begins on Saturday.

The Course:

Sea Island Golf Club, Seaside Course, St. Simons Island, Ga. Home of the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, this Tom Fazio redesign is one of a pair of courses on Sea Island. I’ve played this course a few times. All I can really offer in the way of advice is know what the wind is doing and don’t hit it in the native areas. This is the type of hard-hitting analysis you get here. Besides that, Sea Island is fancy as hell. Steal a golf cart and go up to the Beach Club for a drink and marvel at the Club’s willingness to ship in tons of white sand for its club’s beach rather than have the guests stare at the typically muddy Georgia shore. SMH, White sand privilege wins again.

The Ole Miss Team:

WORLD FAMOUS BRADEN THORNBERRY (Jr, Olive Branch, MS): Won the Individual title at the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship, beating the field by five strokes. The win earned him another “SEC Golfer of the Week” Award. Capped off his week by playing in the North Mississippi Classic at the Country Club of Oxford.

I want to deviate from our regular schedule here and just talk about his performance in this event for a second. Our guy, fresh off of humbling the field for two days at Old Waverly, shows up to a professional event two days later and not only makes the cut, but finishes in the Top 25 (the event itself was shortened to 54 holes because of weather, so that finish would have likely improved for the PUTT GAWD).

It’s not so much that THORNBERRY did all this (we’ve come to almost expect it), but it’s how he did it. That’s the most impressive part to me. Indulge me here. Our LARGE GOLFING SON did not have his best round on Thursday. He was a bit wild off the tee, hitting multiple drives out of bounds. He could have packed it in at some point in that round, just called the whole thing good and marked it as a learning experience. But our man didn’t do that, like, at all. He grinded his ass off, made some birdies coming in and salvaged a three over round to give himself a chance to make the cut.

And he did just that the next day, firing a three-under 69. And it wasn’t just that he made the cut, it’s how he made the cut. During the second round, it was pretty much assured that +1 was the cut line. THORNBERRY was one behind the line heading into the final few holes. Rather than play somewhat conservatively and maybe find an extra birdie out there to finish on the cut line, our man went out and finished the final four holes at two under to push his score to even for the week. That proved significant later in the day, as several guys went low in the afternoon to push the cut line out to even par. In what turned out to be the tournament’s final round, T-BOOGIE backed up his second round performance with another three under 69 on Saturday. That score got him a T22 finish for the weekend.

Those three rounds THORNBERRY played were professional rounds. Being able to manage a bad round, make a cut, and then score for a high finish is what successful professional golfers do week in and week out. It’s that type of performance that keeps you on the Tour for a long time and makes you a good bit of money along the way. It was just an awesome performance by the THORNBABY and should be a reflection of many successful things to come for our guy. ANYWAY ...

Kerry Sweeney (Sr., Melbourne, FL): Solid performance at Old Waverly. Finished the week at +4, right outside of the Top 10 with a T12.

Cecil Wegener (Fr., Ridgeland, MS): Well played first two rounds last week that saw the freshman at +3. A final round to forget dropped him to a T42 finish.

Josh Seiple (RS Jr., Castle Rock, CO): Not the best week for a guy who has otherwise been very consistent for the Rebs. T51 at Old Waverly.

Beau Briggs (Junior, Covington, LA): Great week for the Junior that could have been even greater but for a bit of a mess on the final hole of competition. Still got it into the clubhouse with a +6 T22.

Chip Getz (Sophomore, Paradise Valley, Arizona): Returned to the traveling team last week to check in with an individual score of +13, finishing T46. Forever a golfer named Chip.

The Field:

Mississippi State, No. 9 LSU, No. 2 Vandy, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Auburn, No. 11 Florida, No. 15 Arkansas, No. 23 Kentucky, No. 34 Missouri, No. 45 Tennessee, No. 48 Georgia, South Carolina.

Top individuals who are playing for second behind the MARAUDERS OF SEA ISLAND include:

No. 9 Theo Humphrey — Vandy; No. 13 Chandler Phillips — Texas A&M; No. 15 Lee Hodges — Alabama; No. 16 Davis Riley — Alabama; No. 17 Lorenzo Scalise — Tennessee; No. 18 Will Gordon — Vanderbilt; No. 26 Luis Gagne — LSU; No. 29 Hayden Buckley — Missouri; No. 36 Alvaro Becerra — Arkansas; No. 37 Dan Erickson — Texas A&M; No. 38 Spencer Ralston — Georgia; No. 45 Gordon Neale — Florida; No. 47 John Augenstein — Vanderbilt; No. 48 Brandon Mancheno — Auburn.

If you want to follow the action: Golfstat and Ole Miss Men’s Golf Twitter remain your top sources.

Next Tournament:

NCAA REGIONALS, for a bid to the NCAA championships. The where and against whom TBD.

Bonus content!

Here is a picture of our esteemed Chancellor playing golf in rolled down socks like a dang doofus.