Ole Miss men's golf looks to the future

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - Thoughts turned to the future as soon as the final putt was holed at the NCAA East Regional for the Ole Miss Rebels late Saturday afternoon. But they couldn't forget what it took to get here.

You see, that's maybe the most important aspect of this whole thing - how the Rebels got here and who got them here.

Three seniors depart. A hardworking, loyal, personable, passionate group who all love Ole Miss and wanted badly to advance to the NCAA Championships from here. But they had to finish top 10, and they finished 17th.

Callum Macaulay will head back to his native Scotland after being at Ole Miss for five years. He's said all along he got his indoctrination to Ole Miss and what it means that first football season when the Rebels beat Florida 17-14. You remember, Manning vs. Grossman. Those who saw Macaulay that day remember he sported a kilt.

Fall 2002. That' s how long Macaulay's been a Rebel. He leaves Tuesday for his homeland to become a professional golfer - at least at some point in the future. He's a Rebel for life now.

Chris Rogers is also a five-year Rebel, but he's been one for longer than that. He comes from an Ole Miss family, and he now heads back home to Franklin, Tenn., to turn pro and pay the bills by playing golf.

Brice Bailey from Memphis wanted a shot to play golf at Ole Miss. He tried out for two years, and when Ernest Ross came on board as head coach, he got that shot. He leaves the program in much better shape than he found it. Bailey, like Macaulay and Rogers, will go pro and he, along with his teammates, has helped pave the way for the future.

In the finale, Rogers shot 74, Bailey shot 78, and Macaulay, after a strong 72 on Friday, fell to a last-round 79.

"We'll miss Brice, Callum, and Chris. We've had a great run," said junior David Marino, who shot 74 Saturday. "We're all disappointed with how we finished here, and hopefully we sent those three guys off on successful pro careers."

Marino said 2006-07 was quite a season for Ole Miss men's golf.

"We all had fun. It was a good year. We made it further than any of us had ever made it in college," he said. "We're already looking forward to next year."

Kyle Ellis, a strong golfer in his own right, returns for his senior year after redshirting this year. Four players have been signed for next year. Others could join the roster.

Ross, completing the third year in his second tenure as head coach, is upbeat about the future - and appreciative of the three seniors who leave the program.

"I know our guys gave the very best effort that they had," he said. "I know they wanted to advance so badly. They tried so hard. For some it was their last college round. I'll look back on this year as something special. Getting to the NCAAs will make us better next year when we get back here.

"I can't say enough about the contributions of the three seniors, Chris, Brice, and Callum," Ross continued. "Their great play is what got us here. I love our future, and much of that is because of them."

"It would have been nice to have contended here," said sophomore Will Roebuck, whose 71 Saturday was the team's best round of the three days. "It would have been nice to have advanced to the next round. We all wanted to play in the NCAA Championships (May 30-June 2 at Williamsburg, Va.). But we can't dwell on that now."

They can only dwell on the future. That looks a whole lot brighter now for Ole Miss men's golf because of this year's team and the fact that they got this far.

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