WKU Hilltopper Golf turned in one of its best rounds in several years Tuesday, finishing third in a stout 16-team field at the Mobile Sports Authority Intercollegiate.
The Hilltoppers shot a 6-under 858 total as a team across three rounds, which marked the first time they’ve broken par as a team since shooting 2 under at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic in April 2016. The 858 total was the team’s lowest since shooting 852 in the Sam Hall Intercollegiate to open the fall of 2016.
But WKU really made its mark in Tuesday’s second round, when it shot a 9-under 279 with all four contributing scores under par.
That was the program’s lowest team score to par in head coach Phillip Hatchett’s tenure, which dates back to 2010, and the 279 was the team’s best single-round score since carding a 278 at the Dayton Flyer Invitational in October 2013.
Florida State won the team title with a commanding 30-under performance, while host South Alabama was second at eight strokes ahead of WKU. Among the teams the Hilltoppers outscored was 46th-ranked Kennesaw State.
“I’m really excited about the way the guys played this week,” Hatchett said. “I’m really proud of our second round, with 9 under being our best score for 18 holes since I’ve been here. It was really fun to watch the guys perform, get on a run and continue on. We pulled it together in the final round, so all in all, I’m really proud of the guys.”
Redshirt junior Billy Tom Sargent led the Hilltoppers with a career-low 206 (69-68-69) total, good enough for third place – just one stroke behind Florida State’s Harry Ellis and Jamie Li and at least seven shots ahead of two top-50 golfers. Sargent’s second round 68 tied his season low.
That was the highest finish of the season for Sargent, who tied for the tournament lead with 14 birdies. It’s Sargent’s fifth top-20 finish of the season and his second top-five.
“I think we did really well in a strong field,” Sargent said. “The second round was when we played the best with a 9 under, so I think going forward it’s really good. As for myself, I feel like I’ve had a pretty strong week. I put myself in contention there with about nine holes left in the day. I just had a few mistakes and kind of knocked myself out of it, but I’m proud of how I finished. For the whole week, I just played solid and didn’t get in trouble too much.”
Sargent was one of four Hilltoppers who finished in the top 20 individually, including junior Blake Smith, who turned in his best effort of the season.
Smith tied for 12th with a season-low 216 (73-71-72) total, using a strong offseason to get back on track. Each of Smith’s rounds in this week’s tournament were lower than any round he recorded in the fall.
“Everybody was showing some good things going forward, so we need to keep building that,” Smith said. “For me, first tournament back in a while, I thought it was pretty solid. I’ve been playing really well and working on all the right things, and I think my swing is starting to show it.”
Junior Stuart Easton (75-69-74) and redshirt sophomore Linus Lo (74-71-73) each tied for 20th at 218. Easton’s second round 69 tied his career low, while Lo’s 54-hole tally was his best this season.
Sophomore Tom Bevington tied for 67th at 230.
Nearby at the USA Individual Tournament, WKU freshman Chase Landrum tied for 11th with a three-round total of 218 (71-73-74) playing as an individual. That topped his previous best for 54 holes by nine strokes.
The top competition will continue for the Hilltoppers in the Seminole Intercollegiate on Feb. 24-25 in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by this week’s 29th-ranked champion, Florida State.
“To be able to beat a lot of teams ranked ahead of us was obviously good for our rankings, and it’ll be good for our confidence going forward,” Hatchett said.
Mobile Sports Authority Intercollegiate Final Results
3. Billy Tom Sargent (69-68-69-206)
T12. Blake Smith (73-71-72-216)
T20. Stuart Easton (75-69-74-218)
T20. Linus Lo (74-71-73-218)
T67. Tom Bevington (77-78-75-230)
USA Individual Tournament
T11. Chase Landrum (71-73-74-218)
*competing as an individual
How to follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Golf, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUMensGolf.
WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations