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Golf: Making the Turn – Kelly delivers for UL golf

Dan McDonald, Special to the Advertiser, October 15, 2014


headshot_2_Kelly, Louis.jpg

Louis Kelly (Photo: UL Sports Information)



When Louis Kelly transferred from Adelphi to play his final collegiate golf season at UL, coach Theo Sliman knew his team had added a player of exceptional ability.

But Sliman wanted more.

"I had given him some challenges last week," Sliman said. "I told him his role here, on this team, wasn’t just on the course. We needed him in some leadership areas … we wanted to see him step up a little bit."

That happened this week, when Kelly paired up back-to-back 69 scores to claim the individual title at the Miramont Invitational in Bryan, Texas. Kelly edged Houston’s Roman Robledo by one stroke to win against a solid field, and also helped the Ragin’ Cajuns rally to a fourth-place finish in the event shortened to 36 holes by weather.

"I was proud and pleased to see him finish off the last stroke-play event of the fall," Sliman said. "Even though he’s new to Cajun golf, he’s not new to college golf, and we need some leadership on this team. Him winning is a by-product of the leadership he’s starting to show."

Kelly is the only senior on the 11-man Cajun roster, one that has recorded some success. The team has three top-four finishes in five events in a fall season when Kelly and junior Haraldur Magnus have been the stalwarts. Kelly finished tied for third and tied for sixth in Sam Hill Intercollegiate in Hattiesburg, Miss., and the Memphis Intercollegiate, but struggled in back-to-back events in New Mexico and the David Toms Intercollegiate in Baton Rouge.

Kelly left those struggles behind in the Miramont event, especially on Tuesday when he came out of the box with birdies on his first six holes, along with seven of his first eight and eight of his first 12.

"Everyone who’s played knows you tend to get ahead of yourself quickly when you’re dealt that type of start," Sliman said. "But I was impressed with his determination to stay in the present."

The Cajuns mimicked Kelly’s performance, finishing solo third at Hattiesburg and tied for third at Memphis before big struggles at New Mexico (15th of 15) and at the David Toms meet (eighth of 12).

Magnus, who also has an individual win in his Cajun career with a victory in Memphis one year ago, also came back strong with a second-day 69 to finish tied for 13th. Magnus now has four top-15 finishes in four tournaments, not counting a disqualification in the New Mexico event.

"That’s very consistent play from him," Sliman said. "That’s a special kind of consistency that we really need."

The Cajuns wrapped up the medal-play portion of their fall schedule at the Miramont meet, but will have one more day of competition before beginning preparations for the spring schedule. That day comes this Sunday when UL joins 35th-ranked Houston, 60th-ranked Southeastern Louisiana and host McNeese State in the Moe O’Brien Match Play at Lake Charles Country Club.

The unique format includes the Cajuns against McNeese and Houston against SLU in match-play events Sunday morning, with the winners and losers pairing up Sunday afternoon.

The match-play event is the first for the Cajuns in several seasons, but could become a more frequent part of the schedule for two reasons. The NCAA championships are now conducted in match-play in the final rounds, and the Sunday event counts as only one day against the NCAA-limited total days of competition during the seasons.

"It’s something different and something you’re seeing more in college golf," Sliman said. "The way the schedule fell, we had one extra day of competition and didn’t want it to go to waste.

"It should help us. The five events we had in the fall we had some success and some disappointment, and when we’ve struggled I think it was a lack of a competitive edge. It’s not lack of talent … we had back-to-back top threes to start and you don’t do that without talent. I’m hoping the different environment will spark that edge that we can build on over the winter and heading into the spring."