Alex Wennstam has played about 300 rounds at Forest Hills Golf Club in the past four years. So if anyone is comfortable playing in the 3M Augusta Invitational, it’ll be the Georgia Regents senior.
“I know it pretty well,” Wennstam said. “If there’s anywhere I can shoot a good number, it’s out here.”
The Jaguars play host to their home event today and Sunday, needing a high finish to qualify for postseason play. Georgia Regents will have to do so against a top-notch field that includes No. 7 Illinois, No. 8 Houston, No. 9 Central Florida, No. 15 Virginia Tech and No. 18 Texas and No. 19 South Carolina.
The 54-hole tournament begins with a shotgun start at 8:30 this morning. The final round is scheduled for Sunday.
The Jaguars are currently ranked No. 60 in the nation, according to Golfweek, and are six wins below .500. If Georgia Regents finishes fourth or better, the team will qualify for postseason and make a move in the national rankings as well. If the team struggles, it could miss the NCAA Regionals for a second consecutive year.
“I think there’s definitely a lot of pressure, but I don’t take that as a negative,” sophomore Meechai Padung said. “We have a chance to do something big.”
In December, Georgia Regents hired Jack O’Keefe to replace the departed Kevin McPherson, who will lead his Coastal Carolina team in today’s event. O’Keefe inherited a squad that entered the spring 21 wins below .500.
In three full-field events, the Jaguars have posted a pair of sixth-place showings and an eighth.
Georgia Regents almost played its way out of postseason contention in the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate in March. The Jaguars got off to a slow start and were tied for 12th after the first round. Georgia Regents rallied in the final round with Wennstam and freshman Viktor Edin each posting 66 as the Jaguars recorded the low final round (16-under-par 272). The eighth-place finish now gives the team a chance to make postseason with a good finish this weekend.
“We have great potential to do that,” said Wennstam, who leads the team with a 73.65 stroke average. “If there’s anywhere we can beat anyone, it’s out here. If everyone plays decent, we should be able to do that.”
O’Keefe added: “We’re as good as anybody with our good stuff. Our bad days just aren’t good enough. We need to make some improvements there, because we can’t rely on shooting 16-under every day.”