OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Battling cold temperatures in the morning and wind gusts in the afternoon, the Ole Miss men's golf team grinded throughout 36 holes Monday to grab a five-shot lead at the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship. Behind a 6-under 138 (71-67) from reigning national champion Braden Thornberry, the Rebels (284-289--573) will enter the final round as the only team under par (-3).
No. 34 Ole Miss posted the best score in each round at the par-72 Old Waverly Golf Club, firing a 4-under 284 in round one before following that up with a 1-over 289 round two. Directly behind the Rebels at 2-over (287-291--578) is No. 10 LSU, while No. 20 South Florida (286-297--583) is in third place.
Thornberry holds a three-shot lead at 6-under thanks in large part to a bogey-free second round of 67 (-5). He was the only golfer in the 84-man field to play the par 4s under par on Monday (-1). As he usually does, Thornberry took advantage of the par 5s as well (-4). Fellow classmate Beau Briggs sits at even par and in seventh place following rounds of 71 (-1) and 73 (+1). Senior Kerry Sweeney is also in the top 10, tied for eighth after a team-best 70 (-2) in round one followed by a 75 (+3) in round two. Freshman Cecil Wegener (72-75--147) is tied for 14th at 3-over par.
The temperature was a chilly 36 degrees when the tournament began with a shotgun start. The brisk air didn't prevent Sweeney and Thornberry from getting off to hot starts as they both birdied their opening hole. Sweeney took advantage of the par-5 2nd, while Thornberry rolled in a 10-footer down the hill on No. 1. The duo, along with Briggs, posted under-par scores in round one to put the Rebels at the top of the leaderboard with a 284 (-4) and a two-shot cushion over South Florida. Sweeney recorded five birdies, including four on the back nine for a 33 (-3) coming in, and signed for a team-low 70 (-2). The senior entered round two tied for second individually and just one stroke off the lead. Briggs also tallied five birdies throughout the morning, draining three in a row on Nos. 9-11, remaining in red figures for a 71 (-1). Thornberry matched Briggs with a 71 of his own that included three birdies and two bogeys. Balancing one birdie and one bogey on each side, Wegener shot an even-par 72 on the opening 18.
Round two was all about Thornberry. The world's No. 1-ranked amateur (Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com) rattled off five birdies and 13 pars in an easy 5-under stroll around the 7,000-yard golf course. He made a pair of birdies on the front nine before recording three straight birdies down the stretch on Nos. 15-17. After converting a long two-putt on 18, Thornberry finished the day at 6-under with a three-shot lead heading into tomorrow.
Briggs posted the second-best score in round two, a 1-over 73 in which he finished strong. The Covington, Louisiana, native dropped a bomb for eagle on the 513-yard par-5 No. 2, his last hole of the day. Briggs' eagle was just one of two made by the field throughout the 36 holes of play. He also played the par 4s well at even par, one of only four golfers to score that well on those holes.
Josh Seiple bounced back from a 78 (+6) in round one with a 74 (+2) in the second round. His final 18 included consecutive birdies on No. 14 and No. 15. Sweeney and Wegener wrapped up the scoring with a pair of 75s. After bogeying the first hole, Wegener made 10 straight pars until going six straight holes without a par. Sweeney birdied the par-5 ninth to complete his day six birdies.
Thornberry and the Rebels will look hold onto the lead throughout tomorrow's final round. Ole Miss will tee off beginning at 8 a.m. CT.
"It was great to see our guys compete over the 36-hole stretch," said head coach Chris Malloy. "It's been a point of emphasis for us to play better in second rounds, and I think we did that today. We put ourselves in a good position to win this tournament and look forward to our guys having a great final round tomorrow."
1. Braden Thornberry 71-67--138 (-6)
7. Beau Briggs 71-73--144 (E)
T8. Kerry Sweeney 70-75--145 (+1)
T14. Cecil Wegener 72-75--147 (+3)
T35. Josh Seiple 78-74--152 (+8)
*T32. Chip Getz 79-72--151 (+7)
*Competing as an individual
Team Standings (GolfStat rankings top 50)
1. #34 Ole Miss 284-289--573 (-3)
2. #10 LSU 287-291--578 (+2)
3. #20 South Florida 286-297--583 (+7)
4. Mississippi State 296-290--586 (+10)
5. South Alabama 293-295--588 (+12)
6. Lipscomb 291-299--590 (+14)
7. ULM 300-293--593 (+17)
8. Coastal Carolina 299-295--594 (+18)
9. McNeese 299-303--602 (+26)
10. Chattanooga 306-307--613 (+37)
T11. Little Rock 308-309--617 (+41)
T11. Southern Miss 314-303--617 (+41)
T13. Louisiana 318-304--622 (+46)
T13. Memphis 316-306--622 (+46)
15. Louisiana Tech 309-314--623 (+47)
Tuesday, April 17 (18 holes)
Tee Times 8 a.m. CT