2018 Southland Conference medalist and Player of the Year Lewis George is back to lead a fairly new UCA squad looking to garner some attention in the SLC. George finished his 2018 season with an NCAA Regionals appearance in College Station, Texas. Working on rounding into form the Cheshire, England native posted a 73.79 scoring average in the fall with top-10 finish at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Notable returners Miles Smith, Luis Obiols, and Mason Keller will stabilize the squad as returning lettermen for the Bears. Smith has been playing noticeably well during spring qualifying and had the second-highest scoring average among returners in the fall (73.86). Obiols tied for 18th at the prestigious David Toms Intercollegiate hosted by LSU in October and will look to keep improving as one of only three seniors on the squad. Keller saw limited action in the fall, but the Tulsa, Okla. native will be in the mix for a starting position week-in and week-out.
“It’s good to have the returning guys back,” Runge said. “We have some championship level experience returning and we are going to need it with all the new guys we have on our roster. I am looking forward to continuing to watch these guys play well.”
Five freshman will vault themselves into the fray after opening their careers this past fall. Brett Daughdrill, Davis Irving, Spencer Jenkins, Jordan Smith and Josh Turnock are all new to Conway and will look to contribute to a hopeful championship run.
Jenkins led all Bears in scoring average during the fall tournaments with a 73.45. He shot a low round of 68 and finished tied for 26th at the Hummingbird Intercollegiate hosted by Western Carolina.
Daughdrill had an up-and-down fall schedule posting a top-15 finish at WCU and a low round of 68.
Irving only started three events for the Bears but managed a 75.25 scoring average in the limited action.
Turnock picked a t-36 finish at the Little Rock intercollegiate in the final fall tune-up.
“The most important thing for everyone is to get these guys some experience,” Runge said. “All of these guys have had some success during their high school careers so we expect them to come in and play well. We will be counting on them a lot so I am looking forward to getting out there and seeing what they can do.
The Bears will play tournaments at UC Irvine, Nicholls, South Florida, Missouri and Georgia before UCA’s George defends his medalist honors April 22-24 at the Southland Conference Championship in McKinney, Texas.
“Golf is unique from every other sport,” Runge said. “In golf, we don’t really know how well the others in the conference are doing and we don’t see them usually before we play in the conference tournament. We just want to be all playing well heading into that event and that’s the goal from our schedule.”
NEXT ON THE TEE
While we brave the occasional arctic blast in Conway (I know, I sound petty), UCA will travel to Newport Beach, Calif. to open its spring schedule with the UC Irvine Invitational at Big Canyon Country Club beginning Monday morning. The two-day event will feature host-UC Irvine, Washington State, CSU-Northridge, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly, Santa Clara, CSU-Fullerton and Grand Canyon.