Georgia Southern’s Jake Maples caught fire in the final round of the Eagles’ individual tournament hosted at the University course on Monday. Trailing Virginia’s Andrew Orischak and Tennessee’s Chase Roswall by a pair of strokes following 36 holes on Sunday, Maples carded a 4-under par 68 to take the tournament by a single stroke at 6-under.
“We’re obviously thrilled for Jake,” GS coach Carter Collins said. “He played some great golf. The course was playing tough and we were facing some wind throughout the two days that really made things challenging, so to see him finish like that was impressive.”
Maples shot an even-par 72 in Sunday’s first round and backed it up with a 70 to end Sunday’s play. True to Collins’ assessment of the playing conditions, cold temperatures during the morning and a constant 10-15 mile per hour wind led to just eight of the 67 golfers in the field breaking par through the first two rounds.
The Eagle senior birdied the par-5 ninth hole while Orischak made a bogey. The swing put the momentum behind Maples and he continued to battle down the stretch.
“It can be tough when you’re trailing entering the final round,” Collins said. “The instinct is to be more aggressive - especially when there are two guys ahead of you - and that can get you in trouble. Jake did a great job of managing the course and making some big shots when he needed to.”
And Maples may have had just a bit more of a chip on his shoulder than other contenders entering Monday’s round.
Last season, Maples finished second in the same event, coming up just a stroke short of the winning total. Despite falling behind Orischak, whom Collins described as “an extremely talented golfer,” Maples pounced on scoring chances in the middle of his round while Orischak managed just a 1-under showing on the day.
The win marks the first individual medalist title for Maples in any event — individual or team — in his collegiate career. It was also his second top-10 performance for Georgia Southern.
The victory also kept up the tradition of the Eagles representing themselves exceedingly well in the event. Jake Storey won the tournament in both 2017 and 2018, with Maples’ title now making it three championships in four years for a member of the home team.
Colin Bowles (-1) tied for fifth to put a second Eagle on the all-tournament squad. Wilson Andress and Mason Williams each finished at 5-over to tie for 18th and make it a quartet of Eagles inside the top-20.
Georgia Southern will be off next weekend before resuming team play Feb. 15-16 at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. hosted by the University of Florida.
“In the four years that we’ve hosted this event, we’ve always treated it as a springboard into the second half of our season,” Collins said. “It’s a chance to shake off the competitive rust. We’ve been working hard in practice, but it’s different when you get back into a tournament and get those competitive juices flowing.”