Blue Raiders have sights set on SBC title
MT among favorites at Muscle ShoalsApril 22, 2012 · Athletic Communications
The three-day, 54-hole tournament will be held for the fourth consecutive year at the Robert Trent Jones “Fighting Joe” course in Muscle Shoals, Ala. It is a long, challenging course, much like the Blue Raiders faced last week at North Carolina State.
The Blue Raiders are the second highest-ranked team in the league holding down the No. 48 spot in the nation in this week’s GolfWeek rating. They are sandwiched in between North Texas, rated the 29th-best team in the country and Louisiana-Lafayette, ranked 64th.
“All three of us will likely be invited to the NCAA Tournament next month, and that is the ultimate goal of everyone,” said Blue Raider Coach Whit Turnbow. “The body off work for all three of these teams will merit strong consideration for the NCAA. In fact, if one of us doesn’t win the Sun Belt Tournament, there is a good chance that the conference will get four teams in the NCAA, since the SBC winner gets an automatic bid. That is unusual for a smaller conference like us, but the Sun Belt is a very good golf league. It’s much deeper on the men’s side than it has ever been.”
Middle Tennessee senior Hunter Green is the top ranked individual player in the Sun Belt at No. 78. North Texas’ duo of Carlos Ortiz and Rudolfo Cazaubon are second and third behind Green, while Philipp Fendt of ULL rounds out the top four.
Because both North Texas and ULL are in the Sun Belt’s Western Division, the Blue Raiders have rarely seen them this spring. They have not played against North Texas at all, and defeated ULL in the spring opener in Mobile. Middle Tennessee has a perfect 13-0 record against fellow Sun Belt teams in six tournaments so far this spring, and won the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate, hosted by South Alabama.
Turnbow will go with the same five players that he has used the past two tournaments. In addition to Green and fellow senior Brad Simons, the Raiders will send sophomores Brett Patterson and Jordon Jennings, and red-shirt freshman Andrew Cho to the tees. All five will play, and the top four scores will count each day.
“We have played well at Muscle Shoals in the past, and everyone but Cho has played on this course before, so that will be a big help for us,” Turnbow pointed out.
“We have to approach this tournament the same way we approach it every week. We want to win every tournament we play, so the approach and the preparation are really no different. We practiced this week the same as we always do, we use the same routines, we’ll probably eat at the same places. We’ll do the same things we do week in and week out.”
Turnbow knows that his team will have to play well.
“We can’t play mediocre and finish in the top five. That’s not going to happen. You can take everything that a team has done all year and throw it out the window. It is about these three days.
“Denver proved last year that you don’t have to have a high ranking, or even be on a hot streak to play well, which they did last year and took home the trophy. On the other side of the coin, we finished 7th in the Sun Belt four years ago, and went on to finish 15th in the NCAA.”
Blue Raider fans can follow the team on GolfStat.com each day, with hole-by-hole scoring, as well as daily updates on GoBlueRaiders.com.
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