Dec. 3, 2004
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Tigers Wrap up Most Successful Fall Season Ever
Prior to this season, the most tournaments Memphis had ever won in a single season, both the fall and the spring, was two and that occurred back in 1990. In their first three tournaments of the fall season this year, the Tigers shattered the previous mark for tournaments wins in a season as they won all three before finishing 11th in their final tournament of the year. With three first place finishes under their belts at the conclusion of the fall season and six more tournaments scheduled for the spring, Memphis has already put together an impressive resume for NCAA Regional consideration.
The Tigers were arguably the hottest team in the country before cooling off a bit in Wilmington. They tied for first place at the Michigan Radrick Farms Intercollegiate, won their own Memphis Intercollegiate and then topped the field at the Missouri Bluffs Classic one week later. In all three of those wins, the Tigers had to rally from a deficit entering the final round to win the tournament.
Not only did the Tigers win three tournaments, but a different Memphis individual won individual medalist honors in each of the three tournaments. Keven Fortin-Simard was victorious at Michigan in his first collegiate start, as he was the only player to shoot under par in all three rounds and was one of just five players under par for the tournament. Allan Thomas won his first ever collegiate tournament and it fittingly came at home for the senior as he used a final round 67 to pull ahead of the field and was the only player to finish under par for the tournament at the Colonial Country Club South Course. One week later, freshman Andy Shiels fired a final round 65, the lowest round for a Memphis player during the fall, to tie for the individual lead in St. Charles, Mo. He was declared the medalist by virtue of having shot the lowest final round.
Fortin-Simard currently leads the Tigers with a 71.67 stroke average. Thomas finished the fall with a 72.5 average per round while Shiels and Justin Miers both are averaging under 73 strokes per round as well, Shiels with a 72.67 and Miers at 72.92.
Memphis owns six rounds of below 70 this year, four of which came in Missouri, including their lowest round of the year, the 65 by Shiels, which was also the lowest in relation to par at 6-under. Tiger individuals also put together 17 sub-par rounds over their four tournaments. As a team, Memphis had three rounds below par out of 12.
Memphis had to rally from a deficit entering the final round to win in all three of its tournament victories. At Michigan, the Tigers were two strokes down to Purdue entering the final round and rallied to tie for the team title. At the Memphis Intercollegiate, Memphis trailed Central Florida by four strokes going into the last round and shot the lowest final round score of any team to win by seven strokes. In Missouri, the Tigers trailed Miami (Ohio) by two strokes after two rounds but then blitzed the field with a final round of 11-under 273 as a team to win by nine strokes. The 273 included a 65 by Andy Shiels and a 67 by Keven Fortin-Simard.
Shiels Sets School Record
Freshman Andy Shiels set a new school record for the lowest score in a tournament when he shot a 205 (8-under) to win the Missouri Bluffs Challenge in October. The 205 surpasses the 206 shot by Tim Roop at the Glenn Red Jacoby in 1990.
Tigers Freshmen Ranked Near the Top in Country
The Memphis freshman class is currently ranked seventh in the country in Golfstat's Top 25 Freshman Class Impact Rankings. This ranking attempts to measure the contributions of freshmen to the team's overall success. Memphis, which had two freshmen, Keven Fortin-Simard and Andy Shiels, in its lineup for all four tournaments, has a relative strength ranking of 375.121 out of a possible 1000 and Fortin-Simard and Shiels are averaging a combined 72.17 stroke average per round. The freshmen have been ranked now lower than seventh for the entire fall and were ranked first in the first rankings that came out following Memphis's first tournament.
Trio Ranked in Golfstat Cup Top 250
At the end of the fall season, three Memphis golfers are also ranked in the top 250 standings for the Golfstat Cup. Keven Fortin-Simard is ranked #58, 2.257 strokes out of first place in adjusted average at 71.67. Allan Thomas is ranked #167, 3.090 stokes behind at 72.50. Andy Shiels came in at #203, 3.257 strokes out of first at 72.67. Justin Miers was ranked in the top 250 but dropped out after the Tigers' final fall tournament.
The Golfstat Cup is awarded every year to the individual with the lowest stroke average per round of golf. The rankings are adjusted to take into account par and conditions. Players must have played in at least 20 rounds by the end of the season and cannot have been disqualified or withdrawn from more than one stroke play tournament during the season. Past winners of the Golfstat Cup include Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, Charles Howell, and Hunter Mahan.
Memphis in National Rankings
During the fall season, Memphis was ranked as high as 13th in the Golfweek rankings and 15th in the Golfstat rankings. After their final fall tournament, Memphis fell out of the Golfstat top 25 and are ranked 29th in the Golfweek rankings. Those two rankings are based on numbers and statistics. In the two polls that are subjective, based on voting, Memphis is receiving votes in Precept Coaches' Top 25 but has dropped out of the Golfworld poll.
Three Straight a First
For the first time in the history of the program, Memphis won three straight tournaments this fall. The only other time that Memphis had won even two in a row was back in the fall of 1990 when the Tigers won both the Hillman Robbins Memorial Intercollegiate in Memphis and the Dixie Intercollegiate in Columbus, Ga. The tournaments were respectively held on Oct. 9-10 and 19-21, 1990. Ironically, current head coach Grant Robbins was a redshirt freshman on the that season's team. Even more ironic, the individual medalist in both of those events was Memphis native Shaun Micheel, who competed collegietely for Indiana. The 1990-91 season was also the only other season in Memphis won more than one tournament in a season until this year.
Tigers Sign Three
Head coach Grant Robbins announced the signings of three student-athletes to national letters of intent for the 2005-06 school year. Brad Benjamin of Rockford, Ill., Jeff Hall of Franklin, Tenn., and Josh Ray of New Braunfels, Texas will all attend Memphis and play golf beginning next fall. Benjamin, from the same hometown as current freshman Andy Shiels, is currently ranked #47 in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings for the Class of 2005 and is also the top ranked junior in Illinois by Junior Golf Scoreboard. Hall is ranked #129 in the same rankings by Golfweek while Ray will be a third-generation student-athlete at Memphis as both his grandfather and father both played football and the U of M. All three individuals have played on a national level with the American Junior Golf Association.
The Tigers' next tournament will be the beginning of their spring season. They will head to Houston to compete in the Rice Intercollegiate, hosted by Rice, on February 7-8, 2005. After that, they will have nearly a month off before heading to St. Croix in the Virgin Islands for the St. Croix Collegiate Classic from March 4-6, which will be hosted by Xavier.