Randolph 2nd, Rebs tie for 3rd at Madison

MADISON – The buzz at The Reunion Tuesday was about North Florida's surge, UT-Chattanooga's consistent play, and the windy conditions. Unfortunately it wasn't about the Ole Miss Rebels making a move in the final round of the Bank of America Intercollegiate.

UT-C and LSU were tied for the lead after two rounds of play Monday. Ole Miss was two shots back. Only North Florida was able to shake things up in the final round with a terrific 6-under par 282 team effort on a wind swept central Mississippi day.

The Rebels were able to hold onto a tie for third with UNF despite shooting a 12-over par 300 Tuesday. It was a disappointing finish for the Rebels and their coaches who were "hoping for some magic today" as Ernest Ross put it. But there was none to be had, and it was mainly a result of not rolling in some putts.

"The short and sweet of it is we've got to putt better, and it's not just this one event," the Ole Miss head coach said. "We've had a few players struggling more with that the last several events than any other part of their game. I'm pleased with their ball striking, and chipping has not been that bad."

And still the Rebels, who won the last tournament they entered two weeks ago in Georgia, were right there in contention again. But their lack of productivity on the greens cost them in this one.

"We're close," Ross said. "We won a tournament a couple of weeks ago. But we just didn't putt well here. Golf's an up and down thing, and it's hard to play well every week. And these were some pretty good teams here. But I watched enough of our play these two days, we just didn't putt well. We'll go back home and try to fix it."

The Rebels and their coaches are hoping to get that done by next week. The SEC Tournament is April 18-20.

Rebel freshman Jonathan Randolph, the individual leader after the first two rounds on day one with scores of 66 and 69, finished second overall as UAB's Zach Sucher shot the low round in the finale with a sparkling 4-under par 68 in conditions that made the course play much different than the first day.

Randolph birdied his final two holes Tuesday to shoot 74 and finish two strokes back of Sucher's three-round total of 207.

"I felt like I played pretty well today," said the freshman from Jackson Prep. "I just got beat by somebody who played really good in tough conditions. I birdied the last two and that makes me feel a little better. It is pleasing to be this close, but I expect a lot out of myself. I just tried to play as well as I could. I wish I could have done whatever it took to help us win."

Ole Miss assistant coach Jonathan Dismuke said Randolph's tourney was indeed special.

"I was real, real pleased with the play of Jonathan Randolph," Dismuke said. "He has exceeded expectations. He's so far along. I really think with a good tournament next week (at the SEC Tournament) that he's got a good chance to be SEC Freshman of the Year. There's not one that's played better than him in my opinion."

UT-C head coach Mark Guhne was excited about the victory for his team.

"To get past Ole Miss we have to play really well," he said. "I'm really happy with how our team played this week. Monday the golf course was much different than it was today. Yesterday you had a chance to score. Today it was difficult."

The Mocs are hosting the NCAA East Regional in May in Chattanooga, and Guhne said this is all basically new territory for his program.

"Last year in Atlanta was the first time in school history we had been to the NCAA Tournament," he said. "After we got there last year, it was all an eye-opening experience. Everything was new. We had three freshmen on a young team who are sophomores now. Everybody's back except one senior who graduated last year. Our guys have been there, so hopefully we'll do well there playing at home."

Final team results:

1) Tennessee-Chattanooga – 852; -12

2) LSU – 856; -8

T3) Ole Miss – 865; +1

T3) North Florida – 865; +1

5) Vanderbilt – 872; +8

6) UAB – 873; +9

7) UNC-Greensboro – 876; +12

8) Mississippi State – 877; +13

9) South Alabama – 883; +19

10) Louisiana Tech – 884; +20

T11) Southern Miss – 890; +26

T11) Memphis – 890; +26

13) Southeastern Louisiana – 911; +47

14) Mercer – 915; +51

15) Jackson State – 917; +53

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