The Tyler Junior College Golf Team arrived at Palm Valley Golf Course near Phoenix, Ariz. expecting great things.
“I knew we had a good chance. You just never know how the other teams are going to play and how your guys are going to respond,” said TJC Golf Head Coach Sandy Terry.
By the first day of the tournament, the TJC men’s golf team had accomplished something amazing. They had set a new low-scoring record for the NJCAA National tournament with a combined score of 275, breaking the past record also set by Tyler in 2003 of 277.
“We had an eight-shot lead so everybody was pretty comfortable with how we played and the way it all came together,” said TJC sophomore Cody Blankenship. “We felt relaxed and felt like we could keep the lead for the rest of the tournament as long we just played solid and didn’t make any huge mistakes.”
However, right when everything seemed to be perfect, problems began to creep in.
“It rained three of the four days of the tournament. Two of which brought on rain delays,” said Coach Terry.
The temperature also became a factor. The temperature had dropped from 105 degrees on the first day to 65 degrees and windy.
“We had to buy clothes,” said Coach Terry with a grin. “It was so cold on the fourth day that you couldn’t hardly write on the score card from your hands shaking so much.”
With each day, the score became closer and closer. By the fourth and final day, the championship would be determined on the final hole of the last group of players to come in.
If Marc Rice could get up and down for par from a tough lie, they would be national champions. With a four-foot par put, Marc Rice had made it official that the Tyler Junior College men’s golf team were the 2008 NJCAA National Champions.
“It was such a relief when we won. Just to know that we had kept the lead, and we wanted to win it for coach so bad,” said Blankenship.
“You’re speechless, you just have this huge grin on your face and when they write down national champions across that huge scoreboard on the wall you finally know wow, all that work finally paid off,” added sophomore Cody Bass.
Not only had they won the national tournament, they had set new standards for the tournament itself. The men received their national championship rings on Sept. 27 at TJC’s home football game.
Though this marks TJC for having seven national golf titles, the 2008 National Championship will definitely stand out in not only the minds of the players, but with a thirteen under first round, it will re-write the history books as well.