ST. SIMONS ISLAND – The weekend at the SEC Men’s Golf Championship will not include the Georgia Bulldogs.
The home-state Bulldogs failed to earn one of the top eight spots after 54 holes of stroke play and thus did not advance to the match-play portion of the tournament at the Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course.
The Bulldogs, who are not ranked in the Top 25, finished 11th in the 14-team field after shooting a 9-over-par 289 score in Friday’s third round, leaving them at 22-over 862 for the tournament.
It took at 851 score to finish in the top eight.
“We did not get the results we had hoped for this week,” Georgia head coach Chris Haack said. “That doesn’t mean we didn’t make strides. There are always positives that come out of any tournament. We’ll take those, get back to work on Monday, and get ourselves ready for the next event.
The Bulldogs, who won six times in the 17 previous SEC tournaments at Sea Island, are still expected to get a bid to the NCAA regionals which will be announced next week.
LSU won the stroke-play portion of this week’s tournament, finishing at 834 to win by nine shots over both Florida and Vanderbilt which tied for the runner-up spot with an 843 score.
The Tigers posted a 3-under 277 score on Friday which included a 66 from Philip Barbaree who was the third different LSU player to shoot that number over the three rounds.
“The guys played really well,” LSU coach Chuck Winstead said. “The 66s all three rounds, on a golf course as tough as this and with the wind blowing like it is, will cover up the bogeys that are inevitable. You just try to survive to get to match play. Do you match up? Can you get three wins? We’ve been on the right side of it and the wrong side of it. It’s tough from here.”
The other teams qualifying for match play were Alabama (848), Auburn (848), Arkansas (848), Ole Miss (851) and Texas A&M (851).
Tiebreakers had to be used to determine the seeding for match play. The pairings will be No. 1 LSU and No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 2 Florida and No. 7 Ole Miss, No. 3 Vanderbilt and No. 6 Alabama, and No. 4 Auburn and No. 5 Arkansas.
The quarterfinal matches will feature six out of the top 11 ranked teams in the nation according to Golfstat.com (No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Florida, No. 9 Auburn, No. 11 LSU) with Arkansas coming in ranked 16th and Ole Miss 34th.
Action begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. The semifinals will be shown on SEC Network + starting at 4 p.m.
Sunday’s 7:30 a.m. final will be shown live on the SEC Network.
The individual winner has already been crowned. That is decided by the 54 holes of stroke play.
Actually, though, it took three extra holes Friday before Florida’s Andy Zhang defeated Ole Miss’ Cecil Wegener to claim medalist honors.
Both players parred the 18th hole twice in a row in their head-to-head playoff before Zhang made par on the par-3 17th while Wegener made bogey.
The win was the first for Zhang in collegiate golf. Zhang and Wegener both finished at 5-under 205.
“My heart was beating really fast out there. I’m just glad I made some good pars,” Zhang said. “It’s an amazing feeling. Words can’t describe that joy at that moment.”
Ironically, Zhang and Wegener will square off in match play Saturday as the Gators and Rebels meet in the quarterfinals.
Vanderbilt is the defending champion. The Commodores defeated Texas A&M in the finals last year. Vanderbilt is coached by former Alabama assistant Scott Limbaugh who faces his old boss Jay Seawell and the Crimson Tide on Saturday morning for a spot in the semifinals.
“Scott Limbaugh is a great coach and his players will be well-prepared,” Seawell said. “We know they are a very good team. In order for us to be successful, we need to be good and just play Alabama golf. We aren’t going to worry about who we are going up against, rather just concentrate on playing the way we know we can. If we do that and play Alabama golf, we are going to have a chance to be successful.”
For tee times, results and live scoring, click here.