Men’s golf comes up short in Sun Belt semifinals

Michael Shipma

Sports Editor

After earning the top seed in Sun Belt Conference Championship match play on Monday, the Troy men’s golf team lost 1-4 in the semifinals to fourth-seeded Georgia State.

The Trojans placed first out of 12 teams in the field after two rounds of competition over the weekend and had little time to rest due to a 7:30 a.m. start time for their match play with the Panthers.

Troy started the week red-hot, taking first-place overall thanks to two top-five finishes in the individual standings. Senior Clayton Vannoy was one of four players to share in the individual title in stroke play, followed by a sole ownership of fifth place by senior Jared Bettcher.

Vannoy shot a 1-over par in the first round, but bounced back with two rounds under par to force a playoff after moving up from fifth place during the round. His play was highlighted by a 3-under in Monday’s final round.

Bettcher, on the other hand, boasted a 4-under in the second round before firing an even par in the third to stop his fall from first place.

As a team, Troy escaped with the nine-stroke win over second-place finisher Georgia Southern, which had two individuals tie for first place with Vannoy.

Sophomore Calum Masters continued the streak of Trojans finishing in the top 10, using a 3-under in the first round to maintain a tie for sixth place.

Senior Luke Moser, who won last year’s Sun Belt title with some late heroics, struggled in stroke play, shooting 12 shots over par to tie for 37th place. Senior Cam Norman rounded out the Trojans in the field with a tie for 40th.

With minimal rest, the Trojans then found themselves in closely contested match play the following morning against Georgia State.

Moser got Troy started with an exciting, 1-up victory over the Panthers’ Nathan Williams in 19 holes. Moser battled back in the final four holes to force a playoff and claim the win. It was Troy’s only point on the day.

Georgia State swept the remainder of the head-to-head matchups, thus taking four straight points and a spot in the finals.

“I’m proud of our guys for the way they played all week,” Troy Head Coach Matt Terry said. “They were the best team over 54 holes of stroke play, but unfortunately we came out a little short over 18 holes of match play. I told our team after the match that we didn’t do anything to beat ourselves today, Georgia State played an incredible round of golf and we must tip our caps to them.”

The Trojans will now await the announcement of the teams in the NCAA Regionals, which takes place Thursday, May 4, on Golf Channel. It is likely that the top 68 teams in the national will make the tournament, and Troy was ranked 64th in the nation entering the week of the conference tournament.

If the Trojans make regionals, it will be their third consecutive year doing so.

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