ACU golf is back on the road this weekend to play in the University of Arkansas-Little Rock First Tee Classic Monday. It will be their first tournament since their spring break trip to the Carolinas, in which ACU finished 15 out of 17 in the Bash at the Beach tournament and fourth of 11 in the Pinehurst Intercollegiate.
“The time off after spring break was much needed after the long trip,” said sophomore Robert Johnson. “The good weather really has us revitalized and focused on moving forward.”
Head coach Tom Shaw is traveling seniors Corbin Renner and Kaden Walters, juniors Dillon Vaughn and Brandon Wilkins, along with sophomore Clarke Hudgins.
The team began qualifying on Monday and finished on Wednesday. Renner and Vaughn were automatic qualifiers based on their finish in the last tournament. Renner placed third overall with a nine-over-par (222) and Vaughn finished at 11 with a 17-over-par (230).
This will be the third year the ‘Cats have competed in the UALR Classic but only the second under Shaw. Last year’s tournament presented bad weather and high scores for most of the team. They finished 13 in a 14-team field.
“It’ll be one of the tougher courses we play all year, and we are going to need to bring our A-game,” Shaw said. “Familiarity with the course will help, but it’s still going to be a pretty good test.”
Renner, however, had one of his best finishes of the spring season last year in Little Rock despite the team’s disappointing performance. The reason is simple; he grew up playing there. Renner, a Little Rock native, had a membership at Chenal Country Club where the tournament is held. He finished seventh at his home course last season.
“Corbin is a very good player, and if he just plays his game, he will be fine,” Shaw said. “He is one of the best players in the tournament for sure.”
The Wildcats are at the halfway point of their spring season, and the Southland Conference Championship is less than a month away.
The team is still growing and improving, Shaw said. Practices are getting more serious as the weather and the season heat up. The ‘Cats are in search of consistency, especially from their bottom three spots.
“We put in some good rounds at Pinehurst, but we left some shots on the course,” Johnson said. “We are excited just to be back out there competing.”