By Michael Freeman, Assistant Sports Editor
The ACU golf team finished sixth Tuesday against a group of nationally ranked teams at the Emerald Coast Collegiate tournament in Pensacola, Fla. The tournament gave the
Wildcats their last opportunity to prepare for the Lone Star Conference Tournament.
“Every team that finished ahead of us is ranked ahead of us,” said head coach Mike Campbell. “It was a very tough field. But overall, it was a step in the right direction.”
In a 17-team field, eight of the competing teams are ranked in the top 25. West Florida, the No. 1 team in the nation, won the tournament with a three-round total of 858, while Georgia College & State University came in second with a score of 871. Valdosta State, Lynn and North Alabama all finished ahead of ACU, who is ranked No. 16, as the Wildcats shot a team score of 896.
“We played really well in the first two rounds,” said Erik Manning. “But we were disappointed in ourselves the way we played that last round. We wish we could’ve finished off that last day pretty strong.”
On Monday, Manning, Patrick Hanauer, Curtis Harris, Hilton Funk and Stephen Knight competed for ACU, none of who shot a round worse than 78. But on Tuesday, the weather shifted dramatically, which forced three Wildcat golfers to shoot a final individual round of 80.
“The second day, the conditions got a little tougher,” Campbell said. “On the first day, it was in the 70s with maybe 5 mph winds. But on the second day, it was in the 60s with 20-25 mph winds.”
Some of ACU’s Lone Star Conference rivals also struggled in the tournament. Cameron finished seventh with a score of 903, and Texas A&MCommerce ended in eighth place with a score of 907. Northeastern State and Midwestern State finished in 12th and 14th place, respectively.
All of the LSC teams will play in the Lone Star Conference Tournament in Thackerville, Okla. on Monday and Tuesday. Central Oklahoma leads the conference and is ranked No. 12 in the nation.
“There are a lot of good teams in our conference,” Campbell said “It’s not going to be easy; it’s going to be tough. But, I think we’ve got a shot at winning.”
Teams will tee off at 9 a.m. on Monday at the Winstar Golf Course.
“In golf, it’s all about peaking at the right time,” Manning said. “It’s going to be a big tournament, and we’re all playing really good right now.”