Sean Dale having early impact on UM golf

The Ole Miss men's golf program added two outstanding freshmen this fall. Today we're featuring Sean Dale of Jacksonville, Fla. Last week we featured Joe David of Madison, Tenn. The Rebels have one fall tournament remaining, at East Tennessee State Oct. 24-26 in Jonesborough, Tenn.

Sean Dale, like fellow freshman Joe David, came to Ole Miss with an extensive resume' from junior golf and with the prospect of having an impact early. Like David, Dale has done just that.

Dale finished tied for sixth in the Rebels' latest tournament at Louisiana Tech (71-72-67—210), second on his team to David's tie for second (70-69-69—208).

The week before, Dale was the low man for Ole Miss at the rain-shortened Memphis tourney, finishing tied for second with an even par 144 for two rounds (71-73) at Colonial Country Club's South Course. The third and final round was cancelled.

The duo is currently ranked as the fourth-best freshman class in the country based on their scores to date. Dale said they both have the same personal goal for the season.

"SEC Freshman of the Year," he said.

Make that co-freshmen of the year?

"That would be good. I wouldn't mind sharing it with him," Dale said.

There is quite a bit of confidence that's apparent with these two new Rebels. It carries over into their play on the course.

"I've been hitting it pretty good the last two weeks," said Dale, an American Junior Golf Association All-American. "I've hit a lot of fairways and greens. My fairway and green shots have improved big-time from our first tournament. I hit 16 greens two out of three days in the last tournament. I hit 13 fairways two times out of the three rounds. I haven't been making as many bogeys and just playing consistent golf."

Dale said his recent good play can be summed up fairly simply.

"The whole thing has been working on my consistency," he said. "In junior golf I made a lot of birdies and bogeys. So we're trying to work on limiting bogeys. Just picking good spots in the fairways and the greens and trying not to short-side myself hitting into the greens so if I do miss it, I'm leaving the ball in the right spot."

Dale attributes UM assistant coach Ryan Potter for helping in that regard, especially during his low collegiate round so far.

"He walked around with me the last day (at Louisiana Tech) when I shot 67, and we just picked spots hitting into the fairway, and once in the fairway just picking spots on the green. Just going for those spots, and on open holes going flag-hunting. When the holes are tough just try to play smart and try to limit my bogeys."

Dale said his six-under par 210 at Tech, which included that 67, could have been lower had he putted better.

"I only made one putt outside of 10 feet all week," he said. "If I could have made a couple of putts, it could really have been something."

UM head coach Ernest Ross said Dale, club champion at Jacksonville Golf and Country Club, is already a fine putter.

"I think the single-most outstanding part of his game is that he's a great putter," Ross said. "I don't think he is, I know he is. I've watched him make six or more birdies on hard golf courses a whole lot of times. In qualifying recently, he had seven birdies and an eagle in one round and nine birdies in one round where he'd never seen the course before. You have to putt really well to do that."

But Ross said Dale's game is solid throughout.

"Sean is a good driver and pretty accurate off the tee. He's not long, long, but he's longer than average. He's got a great golf swing and hits consistently good shots. He's a very good short iron player."

Before deciding on a college to attend, Dale had Ole Miss in his top four schools, along with Florida, Louisville, and North Florida. A former Ole Miss All-American golfer is a close family acquaintance, and Dale knew of his experience here, which was key.

"Jordan Dempsey is a real close family friend," he said of the former Rebel golfer whose last season was 2004-05.

But he also attributed Ross' persistence through thick and thin as another major factor in his decision.

"Coach Ross was there from the beginning, and he was always there whether I played good or I played bad," Dale said. "Some other coaches seemed to go away when the bad rounds came around. Coach Ross was consistent in recruiting. When I visited, I loved the campus and football. And our new short-game facility is a real good place to practice."

"Sean Dale's very talented," Ross said. "He's playing a big role on our team. We're very happy to have Sean here. He's still got some things he needs to improve in his game, but he's a very, very accomplished player at an early age who will help our program a lot."

Dale's already had one victory to brag about in another sport since he's been in Oxford. He was quite pleased with the Rebels' 31-30 football win at Florida in late September.

"That was good," he said, smiling. "I hope we beat ‘em in golf this year, too."

With Sean Dale on the team and playing well, that's a very good possibility.

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