Braden Thornberry (Ole Miss photo)
BRYAN, TX (May 15, 2018) - Claiming the reigning Haskins Award winner has its benefits. Braden Thornberry has continued to impress after his award-winning 2016-17 campaign and is coming up clutch at regionals.
Thornberry was the AmateurGolf.com Player of the Year
in 2017, and still tops the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com World Amateur Ranking
On Tuesday, Thornberry fired a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for third at 7 under and just one off the lead. His efforts have pushed the Rebels into fifth at 3 over. As it stands, Ole Miss would earn the last spot from this regional to the NCAA Championship. Even better for the Rebels, they hold an eight-shot advantage on that precious spot over the nearest challenger (South Carolina).
While Thornberry has led the charge, other Rebels players stepped up as well. Beau Briggs fired a second-round 69 to jump to a tie for 14th at Even par. Josh Seiple (T-32, 3 over) came in with a steady 73 while Cecil Wegener (T-55, 7 over) and Kerry Sweeney (T-64, 10 over) posted 75s to prevent any high rounds Tuesday from Ole Miss. That performance moved the Rebels from sixth (one back of South Carolina) to fifth (eight ahead) by day’s end.
No position is safe at regionals, but the Rebels boast an enviable cushion for that final spot.
Texas A&M continues to hold serve as host. A year after failing to advance through regionals as a No. 3 seed, the top-seeded Aggies lead by one with 18 to play at home. (And the two co-leaders individually are Aggies.) This could be a wire-to-wire win, but at the very least Texas A&M shouldn’t be sweating Wednesday.
Clemson (the No. 3 seed) fired the day’s best round, a 12-under 276, and jumped second-seeded Baylor to move into second.
The only top-5 seed projected to not advance is No. 4 Kentucky. The Wildcats are seventh at 13 over.
ROUND ONE RECAP
After finishing seventh at the SEC Championship, Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said: “I’d like to think we’ve put our performance at the SEC Championship behind us.”
The Aggies appear to have done just that after an opening 9-under 279 gave the regional hosts an early three-shot lead at Traditions Club.
Junior Chandler Phillips, a three-time winner this season, birdied six of his first eight holes before finishing with a 4-under 68 to tie the first-round lead. Also tied atop the individual leaderboard is Phillips’ teammate Brandon Smith, who birdied three of his last five holes. No Aggie is worse than T-22 individually.
Texas A&M was third at the Aggie Invitational last month at Traditions, though Phillips tied for the individual title.
The Aggies have fallen just short at regionals in each of the last two seasons, missing out by one place and four shots last year, and losing to San Diego State in a playoff in 2016.
Baylor, the second seed, sits in second after shooting 6 under. Sophomore Cooper Dossey, who missed the first four events of the spring with a wrist injury, led the Bears with a 4-under 68. He shares the first-round lead.
Reigning U.S. Amateur champ Doc Redman shot 2-under 70 for Clemson, which is third at 5 under. Colby Patton also carded a 70 for the third-seeded Tigers.
UCLA, which didn’t finish above .500 a season ago, is fourth at even par thanks in large part to Cole Madey’s opening 69.
Keenan Huskey’s ace at No. 2 and Will Miles’ eagle at No. 15 were highlights for South Carolina, which is fifth at 5 over.
Braden Thornberry, the reigning NCAA individual champion and Haskins Award winner, is T-4 at 3 under and is carrying Ole Miss after Round 1. The Rebels didn’t have another player shoot better than 74 on Monday. Thornberry is searching for his fifth win of the season.
ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Southwest Regional
54 hole men's NCAA Regional from which the
teams advance to the NCAA Championship.
View Complete Tournament Information