By: Ethan Westerman
Published: Tuesday, October 5, 2021
JOHNSON – It was only fitting that local talent propelled the University of Arkansas men’s golf team into the lead on the windy first day of the second annual Blessings Collegiate Invitational.
It was a strong performance over the last nine that saw Luke Long, who played at Fayetteville High School, shoot a 5 under 67 to sit atop the standings in the first round, two shots ahead of a group of six who are all tied for second.
Long birdied three on his last five holes, helping the Razorbacks maintain a seven-stroke lead over second-placed Ole Miss. The performance was very special in his hometown, Long said.
“It was awesome,” he said. “Many of my friends and family came to support me. I checked my phone after the round and my inbox was flooded with messages. We also got a lot of support from the club members who came here to watch and held on for the 18. ”
The senior graduate said it was a boost to have a strong home performance while sporting the Arkansas team colors. Long played at three different schools before this season, his first as a Razorback.
“It means a lot,” Long said. “I grew up still wearing the Razorback logo as a fan, but it’s good now to be able to represent the university instead of just being a fan.”
The nationally ranked eighth Razorbacks finished as a team with a score of 278 under 10. Long, Mateo Fernandez De Oliveira and Segundo Pinto all posted scores in the red, while Julian Perico drew a par. to complete the five team accounts. as-four notation.
“I think they did a really good job today,” Arkansas coach Brad McMakin said. “This golf course is very difficult and had a wind of around 15mph. And for us, going where everyone else pulls by or better is pretty impressive. I was really happy.
The tournament is unique in that the men’s and women’s teams compete at the same time on the same course.
“It’s a momentum thing,” McMakin said of the dynamics with this format. “When it goes well, it can go really well, and obviously it can also work against you that way. Luckily today we all pulled it off and we played well and you could feel the momentum going our way with the guys feeding off each other. “
Last year’s event was an SEC-only format, with covid-19 shutting down a number of golf programs across the country. This year’s event saw colleges from across the country enter the field from coast to coast.
On the women’s side, UCLA led the way with a 1-over 289. Arkansas followed with a 5-over 293.
Brooke Matthews of Arkansas, the No. 1 varsity golfer by Golfweek / Sagarin and champion of last year’s event, paced the Razorbacks with an under-70 score. She is behind UCLA’s Alessia Nobilio for first place in the individual standings by two strokes before today’s action.
Razorbacks Cory Lopez shot a par of 72 while Miriam Ayora and Kajel Mistry shot 3 of 75 and 4 of 76 respectively.
The action continues today at the Blessings Golf Club, with free entry offered by Tyson Foods. UA women will leave at 10 a.m. and men at 11:30 a.m.
The tournament is broadcast live on the Golf Channel and is available through the NBC Sports app. Live statistics can be viewed at golfstat.com.