FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas closed its own Blessings Collegiate Invitational, presented by Tyson Foods, by shooting the low score of the day – a 1-over-par 289 – and making the biggest move up the leaderboard, climbing four spots to finish third.
With all 14 men’s and women’s Southeastern Conference programs playing this unique format, the Invitational also crowned a combined team champion – won by the Razorbacks finishing a combined 12-over par – and a combined “best ball” champion – won by Razorbacks Julian Perico (men) and Brooke Matthews (women’s medalist) that finished a combined 22-under-par. The second-place combined team was South Carolina (+35 for the event). There was a four-way tie for second place at -21 in the combined “best ball”, including Arkansas’ Manuel Lozada (men) and Ela Anacona (women).
“I was encouraged and, for the most part, I thought we played well,” said head coach Brad McMakin. “To be playing in our first event since last March versus this tough field on this tough course, I could not be more pleased. We are so grateful to Mr. (John) Tyson for putting this event on, the GOLF Channel for covering it and the leaders of the Southeastern Conference for making fall golf a reality.”
The Razorbacks not only shot the low round Wednesday, they finished the event with a tournament-best 59 birdies
Alabama won the men’s team’s title with a three-day total of 868 (+4), followed by Tennessee (873) and Arkansas (876). The individual medalist was Kentucky’s Alex Goff (69-65-76=210/-6).
Segundo Oliva Pinto led the Razorbacks for the Invitational with his seventh career top-10 finish. The junior, who had five birdies Wednesday, posted a 73 in the final round to tie for eighth with a 1-under-par, 54-hole score of 215 (70-73-73). Oliva Pinto tallied 16 birdies, which was the second-best total.
Freshman Manuel Lozada tied for 16th in his collegiate debut. The Cordoba, Argentina native was +3 at the turn but posted birdies on holes 12, 16 and 17 to get to even for the day. He dropped a shot on the 18th but finished the event with a 3-over-par total of 219 (72-74-73). Lozada had 15 birdies, the third-best total for the event, while he played the par 4’s at even par, third-best among the field.
Julian Perico and Tyson Reeder made the biggest climbs up the leaderboard today at 11 places and nine places, respectively.
Perico got off to a slow start after a bogey on the par-5, 2nd hole. He righted the ship with a birdie on the par-4, 4th. He also had birdies on holes 8 and 10 to get to 2-under for the day. The junior had bogeys on holes 13 and 17, but he birdied the par-5, 15th and ended his tournament with a par for a 1-under-par 71. He finished tied for 21st with a 54-hole score with a 4-over, 220 (74-75-71). Perico was +1 on the par 4’s for the event, fourth-best in the field.
Reeder, a graduate senior, birdied four of his first six holes and remained 4-under through hole 11. However, he had four straight bogeys, including an impressive six on the par-5 15th due to hitting his drive in the penalty area. He rode that momentum to par his final three holes and finish with an even-par 73. Overall, he tied for 30th with a 7-over-par total of 223 (77-74-72).
Wil Gibson rounded out the Razorback quintet by tying for 46th (79-74-75=228), improving three spots.
Arkansas will return to action Oct. 25-27 at Vanderbilt’s Legends Collegiate Invitational (Franklin, Tenn.). The field will be all 14 SEC men’s programs.