Heading into the first tournament of the season, College of Coastal Georgia men’s golf coach Mike Cook was a little apprehensive. One of his top golfers, Eamon Owen, would not be available for the Coastal Georgia Fall Invitational after suffering an injury.
Chip Thompson replaced Owen on Coastal’s A team as the Mariners set a few records in an impressive win at Sea Island Golf Club’s Retreat Course. Coastal’s 27 under is the lowest team scoring total for the program, as Mark David Johnson became the first Mariner golfer to shoot under 200 in a three-round tournament.
“They kind of went crazy,” Cook said. “I don’t have my records in front of me, but that beat the record. It was shattering. It was definitely a team effort.”
The Mariners were 36 shots better than second place Keiser University while Johnson ran away with medalist honors, carding a 17-under 199 for the tournament after finishing his final round Tuesday with a 4-under 68.
“He’s our best player. If he plays well, we have a chance to win,” Cook said. “He did more than his job — he dominated.”
Thompson turned in a superb substitute performance, finishing in fourth place with a 4-under 212.
“I was not very optimistic after (Owen withdrew),” Cook said. “He had to withdraw and was replaced by a sophomore and Chip ended up finishing fourth. He played great. He didn’t think he was going to be playing on a team.”
Jackson Lawlor had the lowest score in the final round with a 66 to finish tied for eighth. Eli Scott carded a 2-under 214 to finish seventh in the freshman’s collegiate debut.
The Mariners, ranked fourth in the NAIA preseason poll, will look to maintain that ranking with three more tournaments this fall.
“We’re trying to get everybody competitive and get some more tournaments under their belts,” Cook said. “We need to keep our ranking. It’s kind of like Georgia in football — you get that high preseason ranking but you’ve got to keep it.”
Coastal’s B Team finished in 11th place, led by Cooper Greer and Spencer Wright, who each finished tied for 24th.
The Mariner women had a closer match at their Fall Invitational at Jekyll Island Golf Club’s Pine Lakes course, but Coastal still pulled off the win by one shot over Palm Beach Atlantic.
Coastal posted a 627 for the win.
“We’ve been working really hard these past few weeks to get ready,” Coastal women’s coach Nicole Johns said. “They deserved it. I’m really excited they did so well.”
Consistency was the key for the Mariner women. Keista Elder carded the best round Tuesday with a 1-over 73 to finish in fourth at 11 over. Kylee Wheeler was a shot back in fifth place. Lauren Bird and Megan Thompson followed with a sixth and seventh place finishes, respectively.
“I couldn’t believe it when they finished up like that,” Johns said. “They were very consistent. We kept talking throughout the day, and I just told them ‘It’s going to be close — play hard and try to minimize the mistakes.’ They did, and it worked out for us in the end.”
Like the men’s team, the Mariner women have three tournaments left this fall. Johns said the goal is to get better each time they take the course.
“We’re trying to get better each day, and each tournament we play in,” Johns said.