PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast's golf team has faced demanding competition in the MACJC this year.
It unseated the Bulldogs as state and region champions, but they realize another opponent has caused a fair bit of problems: consistency.
Sixth-ranked Gulf Coast heads to Mesa, Ariz., for the NJCAA Division II Championship. The 72-hole tournament will be played May 23-26 at the Longbow Golf Club.
"The five guys I have, I still say from first to fifth is the strongest I've had," Bulldogs coach Tommy Snell said. "We haven't played that way. We ran away with the first two tournaments, then took a nosedive. It's just consistency. "
MGCCC has finished third, third and fourth the past three years at nationals. The Bulldogs sprinted out of the gates at the start of the season, blitzing the field in their first two MACJC events.
But they haven't won since, stumbling in one round or another to sabotage a fine effort in the other.
The five-man team will practice Saturday at Arizona State University's golf course, which has greens similar to Longbow. That work will focus on putting and the short game.
They'll place practice rounds Sunday and Monday where they'll try to shape their strategies for each hole. Snell wants to see his players be committed to their shot selections so they can be confident standing at each tee.
They played at Fallen Oak on Tuesday, and Jackson Wedgeworth (Fr., West Jones/Soso) shot even-par despite bogeying the final two holes. He also just finished second in the state amateur qualifying tournament.
Wyatt Adkison (So., East Central/Hurley), Colin Troxler (So., Hahnville/Luling, La.), Jonathon Newman (So., North Pike/Summit) and Logan Leary (Fr., Gonzales/Dutchtown, La.) have also been playing well.
The NJCAA Tournament is the only time the team plays in a 72-hole tournament. Players and teams can catch lightning in a bottle for one round in a two-day event, but the longer event will reveal flaws.
"I love four days because it pretty much brings the best team and best players to the top," Snell said, "and if we're not the best team we don't deserve to win."
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