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Eagles rock third round
Blondell climbs to third overall
031608 SCHENKEL 1
Georgia Southern's Logan Blondell acknowledges applause at the 9th hole after finishing his round Sunday at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational. Blondell's 4-under 68 helped him finish third overall in the individual standings.

    With a few holes to go Sunday, Georgia Southern’s Logan Blondell was making a run at the individual title, but the freshman didn’t want to know exactly where he stood.
    “I don’t like to know numbers,” said the Lakeland, Fla. native. “I didn’t ask anybody what was going on or anything. I’m going to try and make the best score possible every hole anyway, so I’m not going to let what everybody else is doing dictate what I’m doing.”
    Blondell finished with a 4-under 68, which tied for the low-round of the day during the conclusion of the 29th Schenkel E-Z-GO Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club. He posted GSU’s best score in all three rounds and finished third in the elite field at 6-under. Blondell was just two shots back from individual winner George Bryan IV of South Carolina, the second Gamecock to claim the individual title.
    Led by Blondell, the Eagles made a charge Sunday, carding a 7-under — the best score of the day. With an impressive final round, Georgia Southern climbed into a tie for fifth with the University of Alabama-Birmingham after starting Sunday in 11th place. It was GSU’s highest Schenkel finish since the Eagles took home fifth in 2005.
    Top-ranked Alabama won the team title by seven strokes, finishing 4-under Sunday and 15-under for the tournament. The Crimson Tide, last year’s runner-up, was the second-round leader and held on for its first Schenkel title in 18 appearances despite an early run by South Carolina Sunday.
    No. 10 Florida, coached by former GSU All-American Buddy Alexander, won second place at 8-under, and the Gamecocks were third at 5-under. Six of the top eight teams were from the Southeastern Conference.
    Georgia Southern’s only hiccup during the weekend came on the back nine Friday where the Eagles were 16-over. They finished the first day at 13-over, turned in an even-par performance on Saturday for the fifth-best round of the day and had their most notable outing Sunday.
    “That nine killed us,” Mays said of the last half of Friday’s round. “We had a terrible back nine that threw us out of winning the tournament, but they really showed a lot of resolve and came back for a top-five finish in this field. Overall I’m proud of them for really hanging in there.”
    Said Blondell: “You are going to mess up and you’re going to screw up at times, but it just happened all of us did it on the same nine. It was good we got it out of our system the first day. The best players in the country are out here, so it kind of makes you step up your game a little bit.”
    Blondell’s third-place finish was the highest by an Eagle since Jon David Kennedy took second in 2005 after falling in a playoff to South Carolina’s Mark Anderson. It was Blondell’s second top-three finish this year.
    “For a freshman to go out and get in the mix to win a tournament is exciting,” Mays said. “It shows we’ve got a bright future. He’s mature behind his years.”            Blondell wasn’t chosen to play in Georgia Southern’s last tournament, which perhaps helped fuel him this weekend.
    “I definitely wasn’t happy about sitting at home last week,” he said. “It was not a good feeling at all, especially sitting there watching all the scores. I never want to do that again.”
    Mays hopes the high finish this weekend with help an up-and-down Eagle team find some consistency and confidence.
    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.