HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- An impressive late flurry of birdies pushed the UTA golf team into a tie for first place after the final round of competition at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate at Hattiesburg Country Club.
The Mavericks entered into a playoff for the tournament's team trophy with co-leader Sam Houston State. Each team's five golfers competed with the low four scores counting toward the team total. UTA finished the playoff at even par, while Sam Houston State went 2-under to claim the overall title.
The Mavericks began the day moving the wrong way down the leaderboard but an impressive run over the final nine holes sent UTA into a tie with Sam Houston State in the final team standings. UTA posted scores of 285-289-283 for a 5-over par 857.
The last time UTA claimed an outright team title in 2011 when the Mavericks won the Southland Conference Championships in Fort Worth, Texas. That same season, UTA shared the title at the San Diego Intercollegiate and, during the fall, won the Lone Star Invitational in San Antonio.
Host Southern Mississippi posted its highest team score of the tournament in today's final round and, after leading going into the day, finish third at 7-over. UTSA was fourth at plus-8 with Missouri State and Rice rounding out the top six team finishers.
After UTA's five-man lineup combined to go 13-over on the front nine to start the day, the team went on an incredible run after the turn. The Mavericks registered 15 birdies with just five bogeys to go 10-under on the back nine to finish the day with a 1-under par 283.
The late run helped the Mavericks overtake UTSA and Southern Mississippi to tie with Sam Houston State at the top of the team leaderboard. The Bearkats also went on a late scoring binge of their own with four birdies and just a single bogey over the final three holes to force a team playoff.
"All around, I thought we played really well today," said UTA director of golf Stuart Deane. "We weren't really firing on all cylinders, especially early in the day, but we had a lot of birdies that showed we are really close."
Graduate transfer Nick Thornton showed consistency throughout the tournament, posting rounds of 72-70-71 to finish in a tie for fourth place at even par. The Boerne, Texas native started out at 3-over par after his first five holes, but rebounded with four birdies before dropping a stroke on No. 18.
Senior Aaron Guanlao rebounded from yesterday's tough afternoon round to post the second-lowest individual score of the day with a 3-under par 68. The Haslet, Texas native registered five birdies and two bogeys on the day and finished the tournament with scores of 71-75-68 for a 1-over par 214 to finish in a tie for 8th place.
Freshman Paul Gonzalez, playing in his first collegiate event, also regained his touch after a difficult afternoon yesterday. He opened the tournament yesterday morning with a 2-under 69, but found the afternoon's windy conditions difficult. The Waxahachie, Texas native turned in scores of 69-75-72 and finished in a tie for 17th place in the 75-golfer field with a 3-over par 216.
Junior Tanner Gore and senior Jake Greenspoon were among eight golfers to tie for 28th place at 6-over par. A Houston, Texas native, Greenspoon improved each round with scores of 74-73-72. Today, he ended the front nine at 3-over, but posted three birdies and a bogey on the back to finish at 1-over for the day.
Gore, a native of El Paso, carded rounds of 73-71-75 and, along with teammate Thornton, led the tournament with 13 birdies over the three rounds. He battled back from scoring a 9 today on the par 3 second hole, eventually chipping away to finish at 4-over.
"Aaron played great today, but probably had too much work to do to make it to the top of the leaderboard. Nick played well over the three rounds and had a chance to win it going into the last hole. Tanner was one swing away from having a chance to be among the leaders.
"Paul shot 3-over in his first collegiate tournament, which is a phenomenal start to his career. And, Jake was consistent each day and posted scores that counted toward our team totals.
"All-in-all, I'm happy with the performance, especially since it is the first event of the year. We have some mistakes to clean up, but I believe we'll do that and be in great shape moving forward."
The Mavericks return to action on Sept. 22-23 when they travel to Albuquerque, N.M. for the 63rd annual William H. Tucker Intercollegiate. The tournament is hosted by the University of New Mexico at The Championship Golf Course, which is generally recognized as one of the top public courses in the country and has served as the site of four NCAA Championships.
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