Red Raiders Stepping Up When It Counts|
Freshman Clement Sordet and the Red Raiders are off to a fast start in the 2012 Big 12 Championships.
April 28, 2012
by Britton Drown
TRINITY, Texas - The Red Raiders were not quite completed with their opening two rounds of play Friday evening when Finley Ewing IV, Henry Todd, Esteban Restrepo and Matias Dominguez took a seat together overlooking the No. 9 green at the Whispering Pines Golf Club.
Tucked away on the quiet banks of Lake Livingston, the pristine course played host to the first and second rounds of the Big 12 Championships Friday, and for Texas Tech it provided the backdrop for a dramatic opening day of the conference championship.
In the final moments of play, one junior, surrounded by three freshmen watched from above the No. 9 green. It was a scene that has become familiar throughout the season, as this squad entered the year as the youngest in the Big 12 with five true freshmen littered throughout the roster.
It seemed a fitting close as Tech was led Friday by another freshman in Dominguez who finished the two rounds 1-under at 142 and tied for third overall.
As Friday ended, it was this youthful group of Red Raiders that suddenly found themselves well in contention of perhaps capturing the school's first-ever conference championship by Sunday.
"Overall we feel very good," head coach Greg Sands said. "I'm really proud of the guys."
Proud because his group four freshmen and one junior marched out to a commanding lead early Friday afternoon. Tech led the pack by as many as seven strokes midway through the first round of play. And for each member of this squad, it was their first ever taste of a conference tournament.
"It's just a really good experience," Dominguez said. "It's always good to start well in a good tournament."
The Red Raiders closed out the first 18 holes of play in first place with a two-stroke lead over Oklahoma at 1-over 290.For a team so dependent on the play of its freshmen, it was a pivotal step in the right direction during the opening moments of the tournament.
"The year has been so up and down for us," Ewing, a junior, said. "To get out to a quick start, to get ahead - that was huge. Now we have that belief and everyone believes we can win. Everyone is just excited for the next two rounds, and we feel like we have a really good chance."
Texas Tech's best finish in the Big 12 Tournament came in 2007 and 2008 when the Red Raiders placed third. Ewing and the Red Raiders now have two rounds to attempt to secure the program's best ever performance at the conference tournament.
Much of that is because of the freshmen. Todd helped push Tech out to its fast start Friday morning by shooting a 74, which tied for 10th overall after one round. Sordet meanwhile helped pace the Red Raiders in the second round and finished the day sixth overall at 1-over 145.
"They're stepping up right now when it counts," Ewing said of the four freshmen. "I couldn't be more proud of them and happier to have them on my team. This is the tournament that matters, and everybody has stepped up big time."
The squad will look to step up once again as the Red Raiders are set to tee off at 8:18 Saturday morning for the third round of play.