Written by Joshua Miller, Contributor
The VSU golf team is getting set to tee off their spring break here in Titletown for the prestigious First Federal Southeastern Collegiate golf tournament. The Blazers will compete against 17 other teams in this 54-hole event at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club March 12th, 13th and 14th.
VSU Head Golf Coach Jared Purvis said the Southeastern Collegiate is arguably the most admired golf tournament in the region.
“It’s an honor that we host, probably, the best regular season event in the country,” Purvis said. “We are fortunate that we have a course that allows us to make our event a three-day event instead of the normal two-day event.”
Junior Davis Roche said hosting the tournament definitely means the convenience factor will be on VSU’s side.
“Playing the tournament in three days is really nice because in the two day tournaments we play 36 holes in one day,” Roche said. “Playing 18 a day is something everybody looks forward to. It’s more relaxed, and there’s not as much wear on the legs.”
Playing well in this tournament plays a significant role in VSU’s regional postseason hopes. Purvis said he knows the importance of the tournament after coaching at VSU for 15 years, which includes a win in the tournament in 2010. Purvis said playing at Kinderlou will give the Blazers an advantage.
“We have an advantage on the greens,” Purvis said. “However, when 14 of the 18 teams in the event are ranked in the top 24 in the nation, that advantage becomes less.”
One of the top ranked teams competing in the tournament will be the West Florida Argonauts, who are at the top of Golf Coaches Association of America coaches’ poll. The Blazers are no stranger to the Argonauts, as they faced off in The Matlock in February. West Florida finished first in the Matlock and will be the largest threat in the Southeastern Collegiate.
The Blazers are entering the tournament after finishing sixth at the Pirate Invitational. Sophomore Matt Anderson was the low scorer for VSU, finishing 12th out of 68 golfers. Roche and sophomore Jake Harpe both finished in the top 20. The Blazers are currently ranked 14th in the nation with three tournaments to go before the Gulf South Conference tournament on April 23-25.
“At this point in the year we’re looking more at the regional rankings because that’s what gets us to the post-season,” Roche said. “We’ve got a few teams we need to take care of in the next few tournaments.”
Coming into the Southeastern Collegiate, Purvis said he’s telling his players to simply stay in the moment, focus on their strengths and follow through with their game plans. Purvis said the keys to success for performing well are to keep the ball in play off the tee and to maximize all birdie opportunities.
“We know we have a good squad this year, but we know we can play better if we play our best golf,” Roche said. “It’s up to us to go out there and shoot some numbers.”
The Southeastern Collegiate begins Sunday at 8 a.m. and will finish on Tuesday.