OXFORD, Miss. -- It has been quite a few years since top-ranked college golf has been played in the Jackson metro area. Starting next week, Reunion Golf & Country Club will host the Bank of America Intercollegiate on April 6-8. Some of the best college golf talent in the southeast will converge on Madison, Miss., to compete for the trophy.
“College golf has really evolved,” Ole Miss head coach Ernest Ross said. “Our college players hit it longer than the average PGA TOUR pro. Ross coached at Ole Miss during the 80’s, before becoming the Head Professional at The Country Club of Jackson for 16 years. “When I returned to coaching, I was shocked at the soundness of the technique and the pure distance these players achieved. The game has really changed.”
Ole Miss and Mississippi State both have good enough records to make NCAA Regionals this spring. They will use this tournament as a spring-board into the SEC Championships in two weeks, and in preparation for the NCAAs.
Without a doubt the hottest team coming into the tournament will be UT-Chattanooga, having won two of its last three tournaments and a sporting a No. 16 national ranking. Other strong contending teams are UAB, LSU and Vanderbilt.
Ole Miss and State have several Mississippi players on their rosters that will help lead them to a run at the title. Senior Kyle Ellis was the 2006 Mississippi Amateur Champion, while freshman Jonathan Randolph won the 2007 Mississippi Junior Championship. State had four of the top seven finishers in the 2007 Mississippi Amateur at Reunion in Josh Bevell, Matt Fast, Jake Lambert, and Josh Oller. Their local knowledge will aid their quest for improving their national ranking.
Both Ole Miss (currently No. 20) and MSU (No. 36) have been in the Top 25 several weeks during this season. Southern Miss has improved under the coaching of Jerry Weeks, who is rebuilding with a young team that includes several Mississippi players in his top five. Jackson State, under the watchful eye of Eddie Payton, has won the SWAC a record fifteen times, but missed the winners circle last spring.
Jackson and the state of Mississippi have long been considered hot-beds of talent for sports. College golf is no exception.
Admission is free for all rounds.