April 19, 2013
TEXARKANA, Ark. - Rice University men's golf looks to carry momentum from a successful season into the 2013 Conference USA Tournament, April 21-23. Tee times will be announced prior to Sunday's start.
The 54-hole event opens on Sunday with 18 holes each day at Texarkana Country Club in southwest Arkansas. The 6,935-yard par-72 course is known as a challenging one, with numerous tree-lined fairways and abundant sand and grass bunkers. The course opened in 1914 with nine holes, but expanded to a full configuration in 1922. It was renovated in 2000 to its current layout.
Head coach Justin Emil is confident in his young squad heading into the tournament, noting, "Our goals are to control what we can control. That includes our preparation and taking care of business at home before we head on the road. Obviously it's a busy time of year with final exams starting the day we get back. The guys have a lot to do both on the golf course and in the classroom."
The Owls enter play with four top-10 finishes this season, including a high-water mark of third place at February's Rice Intercollegiate. Rice posted three solid rounds to end the event with a season-low 876 total through 54 holes.
Emil continued, "We are working a lot on our short game and putting. Those are two things that have kept us from reaching our potential so far this year. I'm looking forward to this. It's great to have a week to prepare for a tournament rather than just a few days."
"We've progressed gradually all year, especially in the fall. We had our best finish to start the spring and gave ourselves an opportunity to win the Rice Intercollegiate and played well the first two rounds at the Border Olympics and put ourselves in position to win there too. We've been right there, but haven't been able to convert that final round. I'm looking forward to getting in that position again and having that experience. I feel like the guys are ready to close the deal."
In last season's championship, Memphis held off a final-day charge by UCF and captured the team championship by two strokes. The Tigers shot an even-par 288 to finish with a three-round total of 859 (-5). Then a sophomore, UCF's Greg Eason claimed the individual title by one stroke over Memphis' Jack Belote and SMU's Max Buckley. Eason scored a three-round 208 (-8).
Next week's C-USA Championship will be the fourth for senior Brock Wilson. The Beaumont native has been Rice's second finisher in three of his nine outings this season and carded a season-low 72 in a pair of tournaments, including the Lone Star Invitational and the Rice Intercollegiate.
"We'll be ready for Texarkana. It's an old school course, much like what we played at Southern Miss and Old Waverly, our last tournament. It's nothing new for us. The guys get excited for this tournament because the golf course is fantastic."
Newcomers Landon Michelson and James Lee are making their first trips to the Conference USA Championship, capping off solid seasons with the Owls. After leading Rice with a 38th-place finish last season, Tommy Economou makes his second trip to the event. Fellow sophomore Joe Beck III also makes his second appearance at the C-USA Championship.
Each round tees off at 8 a.m.