Joe David playing well early in UM career

The Ole Miss men's golf program added two outstanding freshmen this fall. Today we're featuring Joe David of Madison, Tenn. This time next week we'll catch up with Sean Dale of Jacksonville, Fla., who was the Rebels' top finisher at the recent Memphis tournament. Both are among the five Rebels competing at the Louisiana Tech tourney on Monday and Tuesday.

Joe David came to Ole Miss this fall with an extensive resume' in junior golf and with the reputation of being an exceptionally long hitter. Since he's been here, we've seen why.

The Madison, Tenn., native has picked up right where he left off this summer and has continued to perform at a high level since arriving at Ole Miss.

"I played a lot of tournaments over the summer and toward the end of the summer played well in a couple of good events," David said. "I played good fields all summer, against a lot of good players in some AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) events. That really gets you pumped up. A lot of those players were (high school) seniors like me and are now playing college golf, too. So there's been some carryover for me this fall."

David is a talented player who has a solid all-around game. But it's on the tee that he first catches your eye. And it isn't his size. He's just 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds. But he hits it a ton.

"Joe's one of the longest hitters in college golf, and he averages 310 to 330 yards off the tee," said Ole Miss head golf coach Ernest Ross. "He's also a very good athlete which adds to his ability to hit it long and play the game well."

David said he's been pleased with the way things have gone so far this semester.

"I've been striking the ball really well," he said. "My ball striking's been really consistent. I feel really good about it every tournament I go to. I just need to work on my short game and shoot some lower numbers."

At the Rebels' first tournament of the fall, the Carpet Capital Classic in Dalton, Ga., he finished in a tie for 26th with rounds of 75-72-72, and in the UAB tourney at Shoal Creek near Birmingham, he finished tied for fourth along with two of his teammates – Jesse Speirs and Will Roebuck – as the Rebels placed second as a team.

At Shoal Creek, David was the picture of consistency with three consecutive 73s. In the rain-shortened Memphis event at Colonial CC's South Course earlier this week, he shot 75-78.

David said he's focused in on improving his short game.

"My putting," he said immediately on what aspect of his game needs the biggest boost. "Just rolling the ball in the hole. I've been hitting a lot of fairways and been real consistent off the tee. My iron play and wedge play are decent but can always get better. So it's definitely been about getting the ball in the hole and scoring that I need to improve the most."

Ross said David's fast start is pleasing but not surprising.

"He's played well, but we knew he could play," Ross said. "He beat a lot of good players in these first few tournaments. He's let some shots get away at these tournaments, and we've been trying to work to improve those areas. I know he's anxious and ready to improve."

David said he's enjoying college golf and that it isn't that much different than what he's used to playing.

"There is some carryover from high school golf as far as the team is concerned," said David, who prepped at Goodpasture High School. "The concept is different than an individual tournament in that you're playing with four other guys and you're playing for your university. You're not just out there by yourself and trying to make a name for just yourself like you are in individual golf or summer tournaments."

A veteran of many junior tournaments, David has already bumped into some familiar folks at tournaments this fall.

"I do see a lot of the same people I played against," he said. "Some of the friends I've made and some of the ones I played against in AJGA events. It's made it pretty neat. You're all friends out there basically, and you know so many of them. Getting to compete against other universities is pretty cool."

David, who received the prestigious Jerry Cole Award by the AJGA for exemplary sportsmanship on and off the golf course, said he's also enjoying playing in a top golf program at Ole Miss.

"Coming in as a freshman and your team is ranked in the top 15, it's real fun," he said. "I was looking at some of the stats, and we've got some players up there. So it's good."

Ross said David will make a lot of progress over the next few years because of his desire to compete and play well now and into a professional career.

"He has tremendous work ethic," Ross said. "He always works to master the game of golf. He will learn over the next four years more diversity in his shots around the green. His short game is where he will have the most improvement."

And if it matches his game off the tee, Joe David will be one of the players to beat in all of college golf.

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