Heading into the 2020-21 season, there are a great deal of programs who are filled with upside based off of the production that was evident during the 2019-20 academic year, and what is coming back as a whole.
However, Dave Hopkins’ men’s golf program arguably has as much upside — if not more — than any program out there.
With 11 of the 12 student-athletes on the men’s golf program returning for the 2020-21 season for a unit that won three invitationals and finished second in a fourth during the Fall 2019 semester, the expectations for Dave Hopkins’ group couldn’t be much better.
Knox consistent from start to finish
A talented golfer who showed flashes of brilliance throughout his first campaign as a golfer, BJ Knox put it all together as a sophomore.
Officially, Knox finished inside the top-five overall in three of the six events that he participated in. The Mason County (Ky.) High School graduate shot below 80 in each of his 11 officially recorded rounds over the course of the year. Eight of those 11 rounds were at or below a 74.
Knox also won the Kentucky Christian Fall Invitational in 2019 by posting a one-under 143, which led SSU to one of its three victories as a unit in the fall.
McCarty catches fire down stretch
Becoming essentially a co-No. 1 beside Knox, West Union’s Elijah McCarty proved to be a stout competitor in his own right.
For the year, McCarty finished just behind Knox with 10 rounds under a stroke of 80 in his sophomore campaign. McCarty posted a 77 or better in nine of his 12 official rounds on the year.
During the 2019 campaign, McCarty finished inside the top 10 overall in five of the six events that he participated in, capping off the year with an eighth-place finish at the Mid-South Conference Fall Championship and a even-par 144 that won the Roger Merb Invitational in October.
Indiana University-East Fall Tee Off, t-9th — five-over 76
Kentucky Christian Fall Invitational, t-6th — seven-over 151
Bill Bockwitz Spring Arbor University Fall Classic, t-44th — 20-over 232
UPike Fall Classic, t-5th — eight-over 152
MSC Fall Championship, t-8th — four-over 148
Roger Merb Invitational, 1st — even-par 144
Hughes serves as team’s Ironman
If one needed a source of further inspiration to do what was needed or sacrifice for the team, said person needed to look no further than Jordan Hughes.
The Flemingsburg, Ky. native not only participated in either bowling, golf, or both nonstop, but did so while maintaining a level of athletic grace and pure class that few could possibly demonstrate while successfully balancing a full-time academic courseload.
A regular top-five player in each of the stops for the bowling and golf programs, Hughes finished inside the top-30 overall in all but one event. The sophomore, who started the year with a sixth-place finish at the IU-East Fall Tee Off, added in a tie for second place in the Bears’ final meet of the year to join Knox and McCarty on the Roger Merb All-Tournament Team.
Results don’t lie
Behind the above trio, along with the efforts of players such as DJ Graham and Patrick England among others, Shawnee State finished first or second in four of the six invitationals that they competed in during the Fall of 2019. Three players, including McCarty, Hughes, and Knox, scored multiple top-10 finishes on the year.
The three victories that SSU obtained as a unit this past fall marked the first time that the Bears had won at least three invitationals in either the fall or spring seasons since the Spring of 2005. Each of Shawnee State’s top-five are back to headline what will be a deep and competitive roster.
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