Jaguar golf teams’ hopes diminishing for fall play

Jack O’Keefe, AU men’s golf coach, has seen his team’s fall season truncated to just a single tournament. (staff photo)

By Carlos Rodriguez |
Sports editor

In a week when Augustans learned that The Masters would have no patrons in November, similar bad news has come to the Augusta University golf teams.

Both the men and the women golfers have seen all but one of their fall tournaments cancelled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike the other sports at Augusta University, the women’s and men’s golf teams both compete on the NCAA Division I level (all other sports are in Division II). The men’s team competes in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference while the women’s team doesn’t compete in a conference. The MEAC announced the suspension of fall sports back on July 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the men’s golf team play in the fall, the decision doesn’t directly affect them because golf is considered a spring sport.

Although it may sound like good news, the men’s team has had four of its five scheduled tournaments cancelled for this fall, and AU Coach Jack O’Keefe is unsure if the team will get to play at all this semester.

The women’s team is in the same position. They had four scheduled tournaments but due to cancellations and not having their full team in Augusta, it looks like they won’t be competing at all.

“We were scheduled to compete in four events, but due to the cancellations and some power five conferences going to conference-only competition, it doesn’t make sense to compete with less than our full squad when we can hopefully be back together in the spring,” said women’s head coach Caroline Hegg.

The majority of both teams are international students which has caused some arrival delays because of the pandemic. An incoming freshman on the men’s team is waiting to get his student visa and his arrival to Augusta will hopefully be sometime in September according to O’Keefe. On the women’s side a couple of the athletes chose to stay home for the semester as the team doesn’t have plans on competing in team events this fall.

Despite the pandemic, some of the golfers have been able to still compete.

“Our players have had some tournaments to play in this summer,” said O’Keefe, who coached Broc Everett to the 2018 NCAA individual championship, AU’s third national title in golf. “The guys that haven’t played any tournaments have been working hard on their games through practicing at home and working out to stay in tip-top shape.”

Hegg has encouraged her golfers to play back home.

“We are trying to focus on competing as much as possible regardless of whether the players are here in Augusta or in their home countries,” said Hegg. “We’re also communicating on a regular basis and holding each other accountable for improvement and positivity.”

Both teams look to hopefully regroup and compete this spring as both look to make a postseason run and the men look to capture their sixth MEAC championship.

As of late, all NCAA fall championships have been cancelled in each division with the exception of Division I FBS football. Division II and Division III had made their announcement last week while NCAA President Mark Emmert made the big announcement on Thursday evening affecting Division I. As of right now no division has canceled winter or spring sports championships.

 

Contact Carlos Rodriguez at carlosjr521@gmail.com.