April 17, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia men's golf team will be competing this weekend in the Southeastern Conference Championship at the Sea Island Golf Club on St. Simons Island.
The 13th-ranked and third-seeded Bulldogs will compete Friday through Sunday on the par-70, 7,055-yard layout on the Seaside Course.
Georgia has been a dominant force at the SECs, winning a league-best 28 conference titles. Under Coach Chris Haack, the Bulldogs have secured seven SEC titles, including five of the 12 tournaments held at Sea Island. Georgia also boasts 15 SEC medalists, including Haack proteges Bryant Odom (2001), Brendon Todd (2004) and Russell Henley (2010).
Haack will use a lineup of senior T.J. Mitchell, junior Keith Mitchell, sophomores Nicholas Reach and Sam Straka, and freshman Lee McCoy. That quintet has been together just once this season, when the Bulldogs came in sixth in the AutoTrader.com Collegiate Classic in October. All told, Haack has used seven lineups in the eight events that featured five players.
"We've tinkered with the lineup this year, but we feel this group gives us a great shot at winning the SEC," Haack said. "We've got a good blend of experience and youth. Individually, they've all had their moments this year. Now, it's just a matter of all five guys putting it all together at the same time. If we can do that, it could be something special."
T.J. Mitchell, Keith Mitchell and Reach were in the lineup at the SECs a year ago when the Bulldogs were second after the first two rounds but wound up fourth on the final day. T.J. Mitchell was on the victorious squad at the 2010 SECs as a freshman.
T.J. Mitchell leads the Bulldogs with a 71.84 scoring average, followed by Keith Mitchell at 72.12 and Reach at 72.12. The top two Bulldogs in terms of scoring average following the SEC Championship will earn berths in the Web.com Tour's Stadion Classic at UGA being played May 2-5 at the UGA Golf Course. If a Bulldog wins SEC medalist honors, he earns one of the berths regardless of scoring average.
The SEC is as strong as ever with No. 2 Alabama, No. 9 Florida, No. 14 Arkansas, No. 15 LSU, No. 19 Auburn, No. 22 Texas A&M, No. 24 Tennessee and No. 25 Mississippi State joining the Bulldogs in the national rankings.
"Two in the top 10, nine in the top 25, 13 in the top 50 -- that's pretty strong," Haack said. "But our league has always been like that. To win this tournament, you've got to get through some of the best teams in the country. Our guys respect that challenge, and it's one that they are looking forward to. There's a lot of pride in winning your conference tournament, and it shouldn't be easy to do. If you win this league, you've definitely earned it."
The Bulldogs will tee off Friday in 10-minute increments between 7:30 and 8:10 a.m. with their counterparts from No. 1 seed Alabama and No. 2 seed Florida. The Saturday and Sunday tee times will be based on the standings. Live results and tee times can be found here.