Underclassmen key for golf team in Georgia tournament

The twenty-ninth ranked men’s golf team shot 15 over par to place one spot outside of top 10 in the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational


Luke Farley, ‘18, was a second team All-ODAC golfer last season. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Alex Niemann

An impressive push by a trio of sophomores helped propel the men’s golf team to an eleventh place finish at the Jekyll Island Invitational tournament on March 18 through 20.

Hayden Combs, ‘18, Luke Farley, ‘18, and Andrew Barth, ‘18, all finished in the top half of the field of 150 golfers after three days of competition. Farley and Barth posted twentieth and sixty-fourth place finishes. Meanwhile, Combs put forth a particularly exceptional performance to tie for fifth overall.

It was one of the best results the sophomore had ever achieved in his golf career.

“In my entire time playing golf I don’t think I’ve ever finished a tournament under par, and I finished that one three under par,” Combs said.

The team as a whole showed similar brilliance at points throughout the tournament, finishing the second day of the tournament in 6th place. That particular day was the first round of golf in which W&L shot under par as a team the entire year.

“Some of the guys that are juniors now said that’s the first time that has happened since they’ve been here,” Combs said. “That was a really big accomplishment for us.”

Had it not been for a few steps taken backwards on the final day of competition, the Generals could very well have been looking at a top-10 finish.

Nevertheless, the eleventh place finish put W&L ahead of 10 teams that had been ranked in the NCAA DIII Top 40, setting a strong precedent for possible later encounters. The Generals themselves were ranked twenty-ninth overall coming into the tournament, and can now expect to climb further up the rankings.

“It’s always nice to go play a tournament with some of the best teams that we will see later on, and beat a lot of them,” Combs said. “We also stepped away knowing that we could have done even better. I think we could have easily ended up a few spots higher than we were. It was all pretty tight, even at the top of the leaderboard, so it’s nice to know that we can compete with anybody.”

Momentum can mean different things in different sports. While it can carry a football team to chalk up consecutive scoring drives and defensive stops, in golf it serves more as reassurance.

“Confidence plays a lot into golf. It’s a lot about what’s going on in your head, and if you can go out knowing that you have shot under a par in a tournament before, you’re capable of that, then it’s a lot easier to cross that barrier again in the next tournament,” Combs said.

If the team can maintain the mindset that it is more than capable of performing alongside the nation’s best competition, and surpassing it, the team’s outlook as the season winds down and ODACs draw near will remain fairly bright.

“Just in this last tournament, myself and a couple of other guys on the team that had shakier starts to the spring season are really starting to come into form,” Combs said. “Our top couple guys are also really reliable players and they’ll play well as they normally do. I think we have good chances to perform well in the future.”

The Generals will look to keep the momentum rolling as they prepare for the ODAC tournament on April 24 through 26.