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Raider golfers go for three in a row in Bulldog Classic

Middle Tennessee is Nationally Ranked; Turnbow still not happy

March 12, 2011 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- If your collegiate golf team has won two tournaments in a row by a combined margin of 30 strokes, has had the individual medalist in each tournament, and one of your players has been named National Player of the Week, what is the next thing on your agenda?

If you play for nationally-ranked Middle Tennessee and Coach Whit Turnbow, you are back on the course, in the video room and on the putting green, trying to correct the mistakes you've been making so far.

They will see if the desired improvement shows up in the next outing for the Blue Raiders when they travel to Louisiana Tech to play in the Bulldog Classic at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, La., on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Squire Creek is a 7,100-yard, par-72 golf course with water and sloping greens.

The Blue Raiders, now ranked #45 by Golfstat and #46 by GolfWeek, will have to contend with other Top 100 teams such as defending champion Southeastern Louisiana (65), South Alabama (80), Jacksonville State (82) and host Louisiana Tech (98). In all, 12 teams will participate in the tournament. LSU, ranked No. 9 nationally, will send individual players, but will not compete as a team.

"The Squire Creek course is as good a golf course as there is in Louisiana, if not the whole Southeast," said Turnbow. "It is a difficult course that rewards the teams that are playing well. The field shouldn't be as jumbled up because this golf course is tough enough to separate the teams.

"If we play well, we could win, but we have a long way to go. It's not about us playing the other teams; it's about us playing the golf course. Hopefully, we can play it better than anybody else."

Turnbow saw several things that he felt needed work, including putting. "I personally witnessed three three-putts in the first hour we were on the course last Sunday," declared Turnbow. "These are shots that, late in the season and in the postseason, we can't afford to give away. These are things we have to shore up.

"Trying to stay humble and continuing to work on the things we didn't do so well is the only way we're going to get better. Our goal is to peak at the right time, which is in late April or early May."

Turnbow has said all along that getting consistency in the lineup, and all five players staying in the game, will be the key. In the last two weeks, the Blue Raiders have had some great play out of the bottom of their lineup. "We've got the firepower at the top to stay with anybody, but we've needed to get some consistency one through five. In the last two tournaments, we've finally gotten some of that."

Hunter Green, who was low medalist in the USF Invitational this past week with a 67-67-71--215, earned Turnbow's praise. "He is as talented as anybody on our team. It's just a matter of him making some putts, keeping his cool, keeping his head and staying positive. He did all of that this past week.

"His length off the tee gives him a significant advantage over most everybody else in the field. For the most part, every par five is a two-shot par five for him. He works hard at it and it's good to see him playing well, and getting rewarded for it.

"Brad Simons has played as well as I've seen him play since I've been here. He struggled in the fall, but worked hard over the winter, and he's really starting to get confident. "True freshman Paul Sansom has been solid in the No. 5 spot. He's had a few rounds under par, he's been in the game for us all three days, and has put up some solid rounds for us.

"Brett Patterson, another true freshman, has floated under the radar, so to speak. He has finished in the top 10 in both of our spring tournaments. In a true freshman, you don't see that very often. He's steadily becoming one of the best freshmen in the Sun Belt Conference, if not the best."

Turnbow just smiles when asked about senior Jason Millard, who won the Mobile Bay Invitational two weeks ago, setting a course record 63 in the process, and was named the National Player of the Week. Last week Millard shot a 1-under par 215 in Tampa -- and finished fifth on his own team.

"Jason Millard is Jason Millard. He's in there every week, he's under par every week. Fortunately, all four of his teammates beat him this past week," noted Turnbow. "If you ask him about that, he'll tell you that he would be happy to shoot one-under and wind up in the five spot. It wouldn't bother him a bit."

Blue Raider fans can follow the Bulldog Classic scoring live on Golfstat.com.

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