Sep 6, 2013
OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss men's golf team opens its 2013-14 campaign Monday at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate hosted by Southern Miss.
The two day, three-round event will take place at the par 71, 6,882-yard Hattiesburg Country Club. The Rebels will join a competitive 15-team field that includes the host Golden Eagles, Arkansas State, Houston Baptist, Jackson State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Mercer, Mississippi State, Rice, Sam Houston State, South Alabama, Southeastern Louisiana, UT-San Antonio and Texas Tech.
“I am really looking forward to our first tournament of the fall,” head coach Ernest Ross said. “Coach (Jack) O’Keefe and I really put an emphasis on our players competing this summer in amateur events. Almost all of our players had a very good finish in the last month of their schedules.”
The team will again be young but will field more experience than the last year’s squad. The Rebels have used the offseason to get stronger and better prepared for competition.
“We were a young team last year with no seniors, one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen,” Ross said. “It seems several of them have grown physically in the last year, thanks in part to our great Strength and Conditioning program.
“I am encouraged by our early fall qualifying. Blake Morris shot 17 under for six rounds and won qualifying by 10 shots. He is playing great. All five players for this next event shot under par for the qualifying. I don’t know that this has happened before.”
Returning this season are sophomores Connor Davis and Forrest Gamble, along with juniors Joe Lewis and Blake Morris. The Rebels also have high hopes for true freshmen Ben Wolcott and Jacob Ross.
“Our two incoming freshmen, Ben Wolcott and Jacob Ross, are as good as advertised and will help us right away, Ross said. “Last year’s freshmen, Connor Davis and Forrest Gamble have gotten bigger, stronger and added some needed distance. Both competed a lot this summer with good success.”
Tom Brown, a three-year letterman and Ole Miss’ lone senior, will also make the trip to Hattiesburg and compete as an individual.
Though he’s not in the Rebels’ starting lineup, Noah West has refined his game during the offseason and could prove helpful for the Rebels this season.
“Noah West, who redshirted last year made some great strides,” Ross said. “He added 20-plus pounds this past year and improved in distance more than any player on the team. He is very close to helping us.”
Ole Miss finished sixth at last year’s SEC Men’s Golf Championship, and the Rebels hope to finish even higher this season. It won’t be an easy task as the conference looks to be even more competitive in 2013-14.
“I know the SEC will be a stronger conference than last year,” Ross said. “Many teams return all their starters, and several teams signed freshmen that will make strong impacts. We know we have to work hard to reach our goals this year. I love to compete, and I love to see our players get better. Each tournament is like a test to see how much improvement you have made. We are all looking forward to our tests this fall.”
The Rebels used the offseason to strengthen their technique during individual tournaments. Ross expects those experiences to pay dividends.
“Summer competition is vital to their improvement,” Ross said. “It helps greatly by getting into contention to win, so playing a balanced schedule is better that all really strong events.”
Morris competed at the 113th U.S. Amateur Championships in mid-August. This marked Morris’ second-straight year to qualify for the nation’s top amateur tournament.
“Blake played great at the US Amateur and had the fun experience of being in front of TV cameras for his second round match. Joe Lewis set a course record in his hometown with a 9-under 63.”
Fans can follow live scoring of the Sam Hall Intercollegiate by going to OleMissSports.com and clicking the link on the calendar. Follow the Rebels all season on twitter at @OleMissMGolf and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OleMissMGolf.
1. Blake Morris – Jr.
2. Forrest Gamble – Soph.
3. Connor Davis – Soph.
4. Joe Lewis – Jr.
5. Ben Wolcott – Fr.
Tom Brown – Sr.