Darton golf takes 3rd in final fall tourney of season, prepares for fundraising scramble Friday

Darton first-year golf coach Bill Jones III just wrapped his first fall season with the Cavs.

Darton first-year golf coach Bill Jones III just wrapped his first fall season with the Cavs.

ALEXANDER CITY, Ala. -- With a first-place finish, one second and two thirds in the fall season, one might think Bill Jones III would be pleased with his first stint at Darton College's new golf coach.

But then again, this is the same program that's won three national titles and 10 straight Region XVII crowns.

"I didn't think we played very good," Jones said Tuesday after the Cavs finished third in the 11-team Central Alabama Community College invitational, which was made up of mostly JUCO and Division II teams and peppered with several Division I players competing as individuals. "We didn't drop, but we didn't move up. We just stayed where we were, and I wasn't real thrilled about that."

Of course, half the team entered the week under the weather, and sophomore leader Joe Sakulpolphaisan (73 on Day 2) of Thailand didn't exactly play like the second-place finisher individually he was at nationals a year ago.

"His scores were all right, but he started off 4-over through five holes and your lead player needs to lead and be 4-under after five holes, not 4-over," Jones said. "He almost made a great comeback and shot under par, but he needs to play better from the outset."

Nonetheless, Darton -- ranked No. 5 in NJCAA Division -- shot its second straight 292 and ended third behind winner Central Alabama, which won by eight shots, and second-place Meridian, the No. 1 team in the nation which bested Darton by three strokes.

Sakulpolphaisan finished tied for fourth as an individual and just missed making the all-tournament team.

Sophomore Shad Tuten (71) had the best day, followed by sophomore Austin McNeill (74), freshman Jonathan Howard (74) and freshman Chase Jones (78).

Jones said with the fall season now over -- Darton won its season opener in Albany, then finished third in Valdosta and tied for third in Mississippi -- the team will hit the books before getting back to the links.

But once they're back on the course, the first-year Cavs coach expects to see improvement before Darton's spring season begins Feb. 6 in Melbourne, Fla.

"From top to bottom, we're not where we should be, despite getting good rounds at different times from each of these guys. The key is to do it at the same time," said Jones, who knows a thing or two about putting together a good round of golf, having been a part of Darton's 2007 national title team, while also winning low medalist that season. "Once these guys get back and get their classwork done, we'll get back on the course and keep working on a lot of the things -- like swing changes -- we were working on midseason that hurt us at times. I expect when we return in spring to have all eight players playing a lot better."

CAVS HOSTING TWO FUNDRAISING TOURNAMENTS FRIDAY AT STONEBRIDGE: The Darton College golf team will continues its fundraising efforts Friday when the Cavs host two scramble tournaments -- one in the morning at 8 a.m. and one in the afternoon at 1 p.m. -- Friday at Stonebridge Golf & Country Club.

The cost is $140 a player and includes the round of golf, a cart, beverages, lunch from the Honeybaked Ham and one guaranteed raffle prize, with the chance to win others. All three-player teams will be joined by either a former or current Darton golfer, or a local pro, and if you want to play but can't assemble the required three-man team, players will be paired with other individuals in the same boat.

"We've been doing it for 10 years and it's a way to get out, play some golf, meet the guys on our team and help us at the same time," Darton coach Bill Jones III said. "And the winners will get golf clubs, either hybrids or drivers -- their choice."

Signups are going on now and for more information, call Stonebridge head pro Rob Allen at (229) 889-0312.