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Rebel Golf Gears Up For NCAA Regional

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A year ago was a different story for this Ole Miss men's golf team, who made it through a regional in Austin, Texas and all the way to the stroke play portion of the national championship for the first time since 2001, highlighted by Braden Thornberry torching the field and winning the individual national title.

There was a newness there. The program was in rare air, at a place it hadn't been in 16 years.

This year? There's a calm sense of confidence amongst this battle-tested group. It starts with Thornberry, who's gotten used to being the hunted at every event he tees up at.

"I have just gotten used it," Thornberry said. "In mostly every tournament this year, I have kind of been the guy to beat a little bit. I have used it as motivation more than anything knowing that all eyes are on me when I step onto the first tee. I just try to manage it as well as I can."

Thornberry's national title a year ago began a summer in which he ascended to stardom. He finished in the top five at a PGA Tour event in Memphis and has made two more professional cuts since.

"All year long he's had that bullseye on his back," head coach Chris Malloy said. "He's had an incredible year. We talk all the time about controlling what you can control. There's so many things you can't control in this sport. He's done a fantastic job of tuning all the excess noise out and controlling what he can. He's been successful doing that.

In a way, he embodies this team's confidence built up on experience. They've made a regional three of the last four seasons. The only newcomer teeing it up at NCAAs for the first time is All-SEC freshman Cecil Wegener, who came within a playoff of taking the individual SEC Tournament crown at Sea Island earlier this month. Wegener held the 36-hole lead going into the final day and stood toe-to-toe with Florida's Andy Zhang (who made the cut at the 2012 US Open at the ripe age of 14). The playoff could've gone either way, and Malloy saw Wegener grow up in a lot of ways in that moment.

"We had high hopes for Cecil from the time he got here," Malloy said. "He's done a tremendous job this spring. In terms of the moment, you never know how they are going to handle it. What's cool is he goes into the final round with the bullseye on him. He's the guy and he's a freshman in the first go-around at this. There was no doubt in any of our minds, just by listening to him talk before he went out to play, that he was going to play well that day."

Thornberry admittedly didn't play his best golf that week and was coming off a stretch of 12 rounds in 13 days after winning a tournament at Old Waverly and making the cut at the North Mississippi Classic on the Web.com Tour. But the Rebels still qualified for match play, which he thinks is evident of how well the team is playing as a whole.

"I think that was huge for our team," Thornberry said. "I played pretty bad at SECs and we still played pretty well as a team. If I can step up and do my part we will be good."

The Rebels will battle Texas A&M, Baylor, Clemson, Kentucky, UCLA, South Carolina, San Francisco, Georgia, Mississippi State, UNC Wilmington, Northern Colorado and Bradley as they try to make it back to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year.

"I think the golf course will suit us well from everything I am hearing," Malloy said. "It's Bermuda greens, which is good that we can stay on the same surface we are used to. I have heard it is a hard golf course dictated by the wind. It doesn't look like there will be too much wind out there. I think it will suit us well."

The first round begins May 14.

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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

    in post Rebels Unable to Send Senior Class Out on a High Note

    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

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    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

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