This is the stuff they write movies about.
What Ole Miss did Sunday at the SEC Championship – rallying behind a once-little-used freshman, defying the odds against the conference’s best with a series of jaw-dropping moments and making the improbable probable with the program’s first conference title – certainly couldn’t have been scripted any more perfectly.
Let’s start with the unlikely star. Macy Somoskey, a mechanical engineering major from Sanford, Fla., doesn’t attend Ole Miss on an athletic scholarship but rather an academic one. She played just one tournament in the fall and didn’t even crack the Rebels’ lineup until March. Her scoring average this season? 76 and change.
Even at the SEC Championship, she tied for 57th in the stroke-play portion at Greystone Golf Club in Birmingham, Ala.
Yet when the pressure heightened, Somoskey rose to the occasion. She won the deciding point against Florida standout Marta Perez in 19 holes to send the Rebels to the semifinals. She then took down Georgia’s most experienced player, Rinko Mitsunaga, in 21 holes.
“My confidence definitely grew as the matches went on,” Somoskey said, “but it was still incredibly nerve-racking.”
Finally, she completed a 62-hole match-play run with a 22-hole win over South Carolina’s Lois Kaye Go, a match that Somoskey kept alive by sinking a 50-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
“It was really special to see what she did out there and pull through with such clutch moments,” Ole Miss coach Kory Henkes said. “I’ve watched that putt [on 18] probably 50 times and get chills every time I watch it.”
Not bad for a player with little match-play experience. Of course, Ole Miss is new to this kind of success, as well. It was just last year that the Rebels qualified for their first SEC Championship.
Now, they have their first SEC title after winning as the eighth seed entering match play and taking down Florida, Georgia and a South Carolina team that beat Ole Miss, 4-1, at the Liz Murphey earlier this month. And despite being ranked 35th in the country, the Rebels appear to be no fluke behind the strong one-two punch of Julia Johnson and Conner Beth Ball, who have combined for 10 top 10s this season, and the suddenly clutch-as-nails Somoskey.
As Ole Miss’ athletic slogan says, this could be the “new normal.”
When the Ole Miss team arrived back in Oxford on Sunday evening, it was greeted by the men’s golf team, as well as other student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans. The players wore their SEC champion t-shirts to class on Monday and that night donned their winning caps at the Rebel Choice Awards.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Henkes said. “I think I’ve finally had time to look at all the social-media posts and watch all the videos clips and just realize how truly spectacular this past week has been and how amazing of an accomplishment this was for all of the girls.
“I think this really has put Ole Miss golf on the map and it’ll be fun to see where we go from here.”
The story continues.
For a full recap and scores of every Division I women’s conference championship, click here.
TOP OF THE CLASS
While Oklahoma State’s dynamic duo of Matt Wolff and Viktor Hovland are dominating the headlines, Steven Fisk has one fewer win than the two of them … combined.
The Georgia Southern senior picked up his sixth individual victory of the season – and ninth of his career – at the Sun Belt Conference Championship on Tuesday at Sandestin Resort’s Raven Course. The triumph, Fisk’s second Sun Belt crown, came after Fisk topped Arkansas State’s Luka Naglic in a one-hole playoff.
After opening the tournament in 75, Fisk shot 15 under in his final 36 holes.
“A great example of the perseverance and determination this young man has,” said Georgia Southern coach Carter Collins.
Fisk is now the Eagles’ all-time wins leader, passing Jodie Mudd, and school’s only two-time Sun Belt champion.
Of course, what Fisk did a day earlier was arguably even more impressive. A season after nearly shooting college golf’s first 59 and instead settling for 60, he flirted with a sub-60 score again in the second round at Sandestin.
Fisk made 10 birdies and shot 10-under 61, a round that included pars on three of his final four holes.
“I’ve actually had a couple of rounds lower than 61 before, so it was a comfortable enough of a situation and something that I’ve done in competition and knew how to handle,” Fisk said.
While Fisk’s Georgia Southern team still has to earn its NCAA regional invite via match play on Wednesday, Fisk should be guaranteed at least a ticket as an individual. What would be even better is if the mid-major marvel gets matched with Wolff and Hovland in a regional.
As if you needed another reminder that match play is the most exciting way to crown a champion. Here’s some more reaction from Ole Miss’ epic win.
While the women’s regional fields will be set Wednesday night, men’s conference championships are in full swing. The Pac-12 finishes up play Wednesday, but the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 all will contest their championships later this week and into the weekend.