No. 2 Bulldogs eye national tile

Published 1:48 pm Thursday, May 18, 2023

PERKINSTON — No. 2 Mississippi Gulf Coast hasn’t lost to a junior college golf team this season, and the Bulldogs want to finish a season sweep at the NJCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship.


The tournament starts Tuesday at Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Ind. At the end of the 72-hole, four-day event, Gulf Coast would like to be standing atop the heap. The Bulldogs rebounded from a poor first round last year in Joplin, Mo., to finish second, and the program has a couple of third-place finishes in past championships at Swan Lake.

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“Ultimately, the goal with this year’s team is to better that and better what we did last year,” Gulf Coast coach Brad Thornton said. “We want to come out with a national championship. I’m excited about it. I think the guys are locked in mentally. It’s just going to be about putting in the work when we get up there and trusting we’re prepared. We don’t want to be reactive to the course or the conditions. We want to stay on top of things and be prepared for everything.”


Live scoring will be available at


Gulf Coast, which has won nine straight tournaments, will get in the van Saturday to head north. They’ll get acclimated to the setup that day and then participate in two days of practice rounds.


Swan Lake is a more exposed course than the Bulldogs typically see, and although they practiced on it during the fall returning from the Folds of Honor Tournament in Michigan, they’ll work a lot on shots out of the different grass in the rough. The conditions will reduce the margin for error in the short game.


The Bulldogs dominated the MACCC and Gulf District, winning all eight tournaments. After winning the first conference event by one shot, no conference team played closer than 18 shots the rest of the season. Gulf Coast won the conference tournament by 52 shots and the district by 40.


They hope that success translates to the national stage, where they’ve finished in the top three at six of the last eight national tournaments. They won the national championship in 2018 in Foley, Ala., after another runner-up finish the year before in Mesa, Ariz.


Chase Kaiser (So., Natchez/Cathedral) has tied the school record with five wins in a season and set a new mark for birdies. He won the MACCC title, and Will Burnham (Fr., Jackson/Jackson Prep) won Gulf District medalist for his third win of the season. That’s tied for fourth-best in school history.


Alessio Graziani (So., Johannesburg, South Africa/Beaulieu College), Andrew Zielinski (Fr., Ocean Springs/Ocean Springs), Jackson Wise (Fr., Pontotoc/North Pontotoc) and Kyle Davidson (Fr., Kyalami, South Africa/St. Peter’s College) are the other four players making the trip. Five of them will play each day, and it speaks to the depth of the team that Thornton won’t make the final starting decision until Monday.


South Mountain, which has won eight times since 2010, is first in the Bushnell Golfweek NJCAA Division II Coaches Poll, and Glendale and Kirkwood are ahead of Gulf Coast in the Golfstat rankings.


“It’s going to be competitive,” Thornton said. “South Mountain will have a couple of Division I players, but when it comes down to it, one through five and even our individual we can use as a sub, until proven otherwise, I think we’ve got the best group. I believe one through six at any point can go there and compete for us and put up a good number. I’m very confident with our guys.”


For more information on MGCCC’s 11 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCBulldogs on Twitter and MGCCCBulldogs on Facebook, and go to