Golfers rally to tie Baylor for fifth at Crown Classic
by John C. Chao
Either the Baylor University golf team is getting worse or the Rice golf team is continuing to improve.
in focus: golf
Most recently: Tied for fifth at the Crown Classic in Lufkin hosted by Stephen F. Austin State University.
What made the difference: Four of the five Owls shot lower scores in the second round as the team moved from eighth to a fifth-place tie. Freshman Scott Philips led the Owls by finishing tied for 11th individually.
Up next: The Prestige at Palm Desert, Nov. 6-7.
Rice, which finished 20 strokes behind Baylor at the Purina Classic two weeks ago, tied the Bears last week at the Crown Classic hosted by Stephen F. Austin State University.
Freshman Scott Philips paced the Owls to a fifth-place tie in the tournament. Philips finished tied for 11th place individually with a score of 149 over the shortened 36-hole tournament. The second of the three scheduled rounds was canceled due to rain.
"It's definitely a thrill to come in here and be able to lead the team in scoring," Philips said. "But as a team, we all played pretty well and were pretty pleased."
Four of the five Owls shot a lower final round than first. Senior Chris Connolly continued his consistent play, finishing the final round with a weekend-low of 73. Rice was the only team which did not have a golfer shoot higher than a bogey in the final round of the tournament.
The Owls feel they were playing even better in the rain in the second round before it was called off.
"When the rain delay happened, we were all playing pretty well in the rain," Philips said. "Usually rain makes it difficult to hold on to clubs and concentrate."
The Crown Classic took place on a tough course, which the Owls appeared to conquer by the final round.
"This course could really punish you if you had a mental mistake," sophomore Bradley Lane said. "It had small greens and fairways, thick roughs, and many lakes."
Overall, the outlook for the rest of the year is bright. The Owls say that this year's team is bonding better than last year's, in large part due to the efforts of new head coach Clay Homan. Homan quickly stepped in the week before the first tournament when former head coach Greg Martin resigned.
"Coach [Homan] has done an awesome job and has helped everybody," Philips said. "When we have a bad round, he comes in and helps us work on our troubles."
Lane has also noticed that the surroundings of the team are more conducive to good relations than in previous years.
"The biggest change this year is the atmosphere of the team. It's lighter and more positive," he said. "We're more focused on building on the good things we're doing while still improving the weaker aspects of our games."
The Owls have the week off before pulling out the drivers again on Nov. 6, when they travel to Palm Desert, Calif., for The Prestige at Palm Desert.
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