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Ole Miss golf 2018: The GAME OF THORNBERRIES is off to the NCAA regional round

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Your Ole Miss golfing expert, Bunkie Perkins, is back in house for your regional round preview.

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’ REIGNING, 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.

Welcome back. Let’s go.

The last time we saw our heroes:

The Ole Miss Golfing Rebels brought the birdie show to the be-swamped shores of Seas Island, Ga. for the SEC Championship against a stacked conference field. The format consisted of three days of stroke play, and then the top eight team finishers would compete in two days of match play to determine a champion.

One would, more often than not, rightly assume that the BIRDIE GAWD BRADEN THORNBERRY would be the bell cow for the squad as they took on the strongest conference championship field in college golf. But a young upstart, a usurper to the THORNE, if you will, took center stage and led the Rebels during the stroke play event. Cecil Wegener, aka LIL PRECIOUS, the unquestioned best golfing freshman in the SEC this year, decided that the SEC Championship would be his coming out party for the Rebels.

Wegener’s remarkable 70-65-70 (-5) performance propelled the Rebs into a T7 +11 finish and a spot in the match play portion of the tournament. The score was good enough for a second place individual finish, his best showing as a collegiate golfer … but man, it could have been oh so much more.

Wegener had the lead coming into the final day of the stroke play event and held a two shot lead with three holes to play, but a bogey-bogey stretch on 17 and 18 forced Wegener into a sudden death playoff with Florida’s Andy Zhang to determine the individual champion. After pars by both players on the first two playoff holes, Wegener had an equalizing par putt lip out on the third playoff hole to give the outright victory for Zhang. Massively disappointing finish, surely, but overall just an epic week for LIL PRECIOUS and a great sign for the future of the Rebel golf program.

We are four paragraphs in and we haven’t even mentioned the performance of OUR HERO BRADEN THRONBERRY. Let’s remedy such an egregious oversight. THORNBERRY simply didn’t have his best stuff in Sea Island. He finished 73-72-72 (+7) for the week and a T36 finish … but let’s cut TEDDY PUTTSBIN some slack since those were his seventh, eighth, and ninth competitive golf rounds in a week and a half. Those rounds included a win at Olde Waverly and a Top 25 finish in a Web.com pro event over the previous weekend. Thankfully, the rest of GOLF SQUAD REBELS had their captain’s back.

Josh Seiple rebounded from a tough opening round to fire a 65-73 on the final two days to finish +4 and a T26. Beau Briggs showed some nice consistency again in Georgia with rounds of 73-75-71 and a +9 T46 placement. Kerry Sweeny finished up the scoring for the Rebels with two good bookended rounds of 72 and 73 to finish +13 and T59.

The match play portion of the event put the Rebels up against No. 7 ranked Florida. Josh Seiple, Cecil Wegener, and Beau Briggs were the first to go out for the Rebels, while Sweeney and MATCH PLAYDEN THORNBERRY would finish out the last legs if needed. Each of the first three matches had momentum swings throughout, with each Ole Miss golfer holding 2-up leads at various portions during the respective matches. However, Florida was simply too tough down the stretch. John Axelsen of Florida rallied to best Seiple three and two. Andy Zhang, fresh off surviving a playoff with Cecil Wegener the day before, bested the freshman in the rematch two and one, and Chris Nido beat Beau Briggs four and two to secure the round victory for Florida. At the time, Kerry Sweeny was 3-up on Alejandro Tosti and LORD THORNBERRY was 2-up on Florida’s Gordon Neale.

The loss ended the Rebs’ conference tournament run but gave the team ample confidence and momentum as they move into the NCAA Regional portion of the season.

Golfweek Rankings: Team: 31st: Individual: TEDDY WOOOOOSEVELT: 8th

This Week’s Tournament:

NCAA REGIONALS. For the 11th time in program history, the Golf Rebs are going to the NCAA post-season. They head to the Bryan, Texas (Texas A&M) Regional as the No. 6 seed. The top five from each regional make it to the NCAA Finals in Stillwater, Okla.

The Course:

Traditions Club, Bryan, Texas. This Jack Nicklaus design boasts itself as a championship course with “stately hardwoods, many natural creeks and wetlands, and striking vistas of Kyle Field and the University Skyline.” If this tradition is like the rest of the A&M traditions, then this environment is weird, the dress code includes painted overalls, and the course is not nearly as nice as a course in Austin, despite what the locals say.

The Ole Miss Team:

SOON TO BE BACK-TO-BACK NCAA CHAMPION BRADEN THORNBERRY (Jr, Olive Branch, MS): It’s hard to call three consistent rounds in the SEC Championship a disappointment, but when you are the top amateur in the world and finish T36 in a tournament it-s maybe a little disappointing. But let’s cut THANOSBERRY some slack: it was his third tournament in little more than a week plus, and continually being the best player in the tournament has to be exhausting. Also, why worry about some middling SEC Championship when you can just go out and defend your NCAA Championship? Was named a finalist for the Ben Hogan Award, given to the best collegiate golfer in the country. Just go ahead and start engraving that plaque now, selection committee. Got a bid to the PGA’s Fed Ex St. Jude Classic in Memphis, a tournament he just happened to finish fifth in last year, no big deal.

Oh yeah, he also earned All SEC First Team honors, which, if he hadn’t, we would’ve had some real words with the SEC’s official Twitter account. Go yell at them anyway, we don’t care.

Cecil Wegener (Fr., Ridgeland, MS): The LIL PRECIOUS coming out party was 18 to enter, 21 to sink (putts) as Wegener let the rest of the SEC know that he will be a force to be reckoned with going forward. Finished in second place after losing in a playoff to Andy Zhang. Earned SEC All Freshman honors to boot. Grew a sweet ass mustache just to let the haters know. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself.

Kerry Sweeney (Sr., Melbourne, FL): Quality first and third round scores from the lone senior helped keep the team total in the top eight.

Josh Seiple (RS Jr., Castle Rock, CO): Very good finish for the Junior. Rounds of 65 and 73 to close out the week got him to +4 and a tie for 26th.

Beau Briggs (Junior, Covington, LA): Another solid week for Briggs. Went 73-75-71 to finish +9 and a tie for 46th. Also, CONFERENCE SERVICE AWARD, HOLLA ATCHA BOY.

The Field:

No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 11 Baylor, No. 16 Clemson, No. 24 Kentucky, No. 28 UCLA, No. 46 South Carolina, No. 47 Georgia, San Francisco, Mississippi State, UNC Wilmington, Northern Colorado and Bradley

Top individuals who are playing for second behind the NCAA REGIONAL DOMINATORS include: No. 11 Chandler Phillips – A&M, No. 15 Garrett May – Baylor, No. 30 Turk Pettit – Clemson, No. 32 Bryson Nimmer — Clemson, No. 39 Spencer Ralston – UGA, No. 43 Matthew Perrine – Baylor, No. 44 Braden Bailey – Baylor, No. 47 Doc Redman – Clemson.

If you want to follow the action:

Golfstat and Ole Miss Men’s Golf Twitter remain your top sources.

Next Tournament:

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP. Stillwater, Okla., WHERE YOUR BOY BUNKIE WILL BE IN ATTENDANCE. BUY ME A BEER Y’AAAALLLLL.