Longwood men’s golf finishes strong in NCAA Regionals
Published 2:15 am Thursday, May 18, 2023
A season that will go down in history, fittingly, saw the Longwood men’s golf team close strong in the NCAA Regionals tournament.
The team bounced back from a difficult second round to shoot an even-par 288 in the final 18 holes. Nick Rakes and Scott Jordan led the way, but all five players hit big shots in key moments at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls in Salem, South Carolina.
The Lancers bounced back from a tough second round and fended off a hard charge from Long Island to finish 13th at the event, one spot above their No. 14 seed coming in.
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After a spring up and around the top of leaderboards, the Lancers applied the lessons they learned throughout their spring season. Four players shot at par or better on the final nine holes, with Rakes going three-under in that stretch.
“Today was definitely the best day to score on the golf course,” Longwood men’s golf head coach Kevin Fillman said. “The hole locations were set up in spots to score more so than the past couple of days, especially yesterday. I felt like we played well at times, and we didn’t play well at other times. But one of the things that we wanted to make sure we did today was to go out there and commit to what we’re doing, play aggressively, and, bottom line, have fun. And I think we did have a little bit of fun today. That’s good.”
Breaking down the performance
Rakes paced the Lancers and roared into the clubhouse, as the Second Team All-Big South selection shot three-under on the back nine after an even front nine.
After spending the season as Longwood’s top scorer, Rakes posted a pair of birdies and an eagle in the final nine holes. He capped his final round of his junior campaign with a birdie on 18 to help Longwood stay ahead of Long Island. He improved his day-by-day score by six strokes from the opening day to finish tied for 55th.
Jordan closed his best tournament as a Lancer with a second round under par. He continued a strong run of play to close the year with his finest round at Longwood. He shot a 64-74-71—209 (-7). The sophomore tied for 20th in the field of 75 golfers, and he finished above 10 players ranked in the top 100 in the country.
Much like Rakes, Jordan closed the round well, with a pair of birdies in his final three holes. He sank a birdie putt after a marvelous chip on the par 5 18th hole to clinch Longwood the 13th spot in the standings.
“Our expectations here were to play as well as we can and beat as many teams as we can,” Fillman said. “The expectation was not to win or probably even advance, to be honest with you. We just wanted to play well and represent the Big South, and I think that we did that.”
Longwood men’s golf leads the charge
Even as Jordan and Rakes led the charge, the rest of the Lancer lineup chipped in down the stretch.
Justin LaRue battled back from a slow start, and he found a new gear down the stretch. The sophomore birdied the final four holes to finish two-under on the back nine for a second straight day.
He also posted his best round of the tournament with a final-round 73 that was one over par, and he tied for 66th.
Brendan Dunphy closed out his final collegiate round with the Lancers with a pair of birdies in his last four holes. His 75 shaved off five strokes from his previous day’s score as he battled throughout the round.
Daniel George closed the tournament with a final round of 76. He had seven pars in his final nine holes.
For the Lancers, all but one player returns for a team that won its first Big South Championship in team history. The team advanced to an NCAA Regional for the first time since 2007.
“It means we’re the Big South Champions,” Fillman said about what it means to play in a regional. “No one’s ever going to take that away from us. That’s a big deal to us because that’s one of our main goals as a team. Overall, it was a great experience, and I’m glad we’re the Big South Champions and that we get to represent the Big South down here. I feel good about that and the year we just had.”
The Cliffs at Keowee Falls
NCAA Salem Regional
Par 72, 7126 Yards
1. Georgia Tech: 278-266-267—811 (-53)
2. Arkansas: 266-271-282—819 (-45)
3. North Carolina: 273-278-270—821 (-43)
4. New Mexico: 272-279-271—822 (-42)
T5. Texas A&M: 281-283-271—835 (-29)
T5. Clemson: 282-278-275—835 (-29)
T7. Georgia Southern: 279-279-278—836 (-28)
T7. San Diego State: 284-280-272—836 (-28)
9. Northern Illinois: 275-278-288—841 (-23)
10. Furman: 283-288-281—852 (-12)
11. Middle Tennessee State: 283-291-282—856 (-8)
12. Purdue: 283-296-283—862 (-2)
13. Longwood: 284-302-288—874 (+10)
14. Long Island: 308-292-276—876 (+12)