Top 25 men’s golf leaning on experience heading into NCAA Regional

By most measurements, 2012-13 has been one of the best seasons in program history for the Mississippi State men’s golf team.

With a program-record four tournament wins in the regular season, the Bulldogs now head to the postseason with hopes of maintaining that success.

CADSMEUGWXLWQBG.20130409133038And there’s good news on that front, thanks to the planning of head coach Clay Homan in the offseason.

Selected to play in the Baton Rouge regional, MSU begins its postseason on Thursday with a certain level of experience already under its belt having played at LSU last semester.

“That was one of the reasons we played in LSU’s tournament this fall,” Homan said, “because we knew they were gonna host a regional and there would be a chance of us going there. It should prove helpful.”

Among all else, MSU’s coaches and players already know the hotel they’ll be staying in, the road they travel to get there and even a few good places to eat.

Not to mention the familiarity with the course itself.

“There’s a lot of local knowledge,” Homan said. “The greens are real severe, it’s probably one of the longest golf courses you’ll see anywhere, but that suits our style of play.”

A style of play, Homan said, reliant on experience and maturity.

Juniors Chad Ramey and Axel Boasson were both named All-SEC at the end of the regular season, while Joe Sakulpolphaisan got to campus this season as the No. 1-rated junior college player in the country.

With four juniors and a senior, in addition to a pair of sophomores and freshmen, Homan likes tougher courses where less experienced players might lose focus or make easy mistakes.

“It starts with Chad, but our whole team tends to do better when par is a good score. That’s the kind of golf course we wanted. We want where par is at a premium, and we feel like we have that.

“We felt like this course, because it’s big, that’s a good golf course for us. It gets tougher as you get closer,” Homan said. “You’ve got lots of humps and bumps on these greens that you’ve gotta navigate.”

Ramey, as Homan mentioned, has been a star for MSU, not just great for State, but one of the best players in the conference and in the country.

He leads the teams with a 71.88 average, earning him five Top 5 tournament finishes, due in large part to his 99 birdies and three eagles over the course of the season.

Pair Ramey with Boasson, who sports an average of 72 with a low score of 67 to go along with his team-high 110 birdies, and MSU has both a strong and mature duo leading the way, with a wealth of experience and talent behind them.

“Our guys are playing with confidence. They’re even-keeled, don’t get too high, don’t get too low. We’re fortunate to have a veteran group like we have. “ Homan said. “You don’t really have to take these guys by the hand. They know how to play and what it takes for them to play their best. We may get beat, but it won’t be because they aren’t able to handle themselves.”

When MSU arrives in Baton Rouge, the Bulldogs will try to escape the town the same way they got there: through the SEC. Conference mates Alabama, Florida, LSU and Tennessee will all be in the regional with MSU and the rest of the teams from across the country, and the top five finishers earn the right to play at Nationals in Georgia.

Fortunately for MSU, it’s already played against – and in some instances beaten – many of the top teams it will see in the regional.

Over the course of their big season, Homan thinks his Bulldogs have prepared themselves well for the postseason.

“We’ve already beaten Florida, we’ve already beaten LSU. With every win, we draw confidence,” Homan said. “Our team has been continually getting better each week. We’ve learned an awful lot this year and we’ve improved a lot this year. I don’t know how we’re gonna play, but we can handle a lot. This group has been through a lot.”

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