ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — The Georgia men’s golf team will join its fellow league members this week in the Southeastern Conference Championship at Sea Island Golf Club.
The SEC Championship will run Wednesday through Sunday on the par-70, 6,898-yard layout on the Seaside Course.
The tournament will feature 54 holes of stroke play Wednesday through Friday, followed by match play quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday, and match play finals on Sunday. SEC Network + coverage will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday, while the SEC Network will air Sunday’s match starting at 7:30 a.m.
Georgia will use a lineup of senior Zach Healy, junior Jack Larkin Jr., sophomores Trevor Phillips and Spencer Ralston, and freshman Davis Thompson. Healy played in the 2015 and 2016 SECs, finishing 11th and 18th, respectively, and helping the 2016 squad claim the league crown. Larkin, Phillips and Ralston made their conference debuts a year ago.
“This team isn’t as veteran as others we’ve taken to the SECs,” Georgia head coach Chris Haack said. “That’s a little different for us, but our goals remain the same. We want to go down there and play as steady and as consistent as we can in stroke play and then take our shot in match play. The biggest thing about college golf is learning to play without fear. When you’re playing for a school like Georgia and you’re young, you immediately have more nerves than you should and you’re more uptight than you should be. That’s all part of the learning curve. These guys have had a baptism by fire, which can be tough at the beginning but ultimately will be a good thing. They’ve made huge strides in a short amount of time, so there’s no doubt in my mind that we will be in contention to win the SEC title.”
Ralston leads the Bulldogs with a scoring average of 70.69 and he has finished in the top 10 in four straight tournaments, six out of seven, and seven out of 10 overall. Thompson is next at 72.26, followed by Phillips at 72.54, Healy at 72.80 and Larkin at 76.00.
The Bulldogs will start play on Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. and will be paired with Mississippi State. The Thursday and Friday tee times will be based on standings, with each day’s first players off at 7:30 a.m. and the last off at 9:50 a.m. The match play quarters will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the semis at 1 p.m. The match play final will take place Sunday at 7:30 a.m.
Live results and tee times can be found at SECSports.com and Golfstat.com.
The SEC has been played at Sea Island since 2001 (Seaside Course 2001-07, 2010-present; Frederica Golf Club 2008-09). Georgia has won six of the previous 17 championships. Alabama has won four times, Florida has won twice, while Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee and Vanderbilt each have won once during that span.
Georgia has been a dominant force at the SECs, winning a league-best 29 conference titles. Under Haack, the Bulldogs have secured eight SEC titles, including the six at Sea Island. Georgia boasts 16 SEC medalists, including Haack protégés Bryant Odom (2001), Brendon Todd (2004), Russell Henley (2010) and Lee McCoy (2016).
The SEC is as strong as ever with five schools ranked in the top 10 and three other sources in the top 20. All 14 SEC teams currently are projected to advance to the NCAA Regionals next month, which would mark the first time that has happened.
“If you can’t get excited this time of year, there’s something wrong,” Haack said. “There’s a great deal of pride any time you get to compete for your conference championship.”