Fennel, a 5-foot-4, 130-pound UA golf team walk-on from Fayetteville who just completed his freshman year, joined forces with the long-hitting Davis, Arkansas’ sophomore-to-be punter from Fort Smith Southside who at one time was courted by Oklahoma State to play both football and golf.
“Jeremy is the kind that can not pick up a golf club for two months and still play the way he did Saturday,” said Tarri Fennel, Brady’s mother. “He and Brady were actually mad that they didn’t shoot a 54.”
Davis spiced the round by driving within 20 yards of the par-4 8th hole and then holing his pitch shot for an eagle two. The duo also eagled the par-5 17th hole in their round of 27-29--56.
Scott Murphy, the pro at PVAC, said, “I don’t remember any team ever shooting below 12-under-par in a two-man scramble here.”
Longtime PVAC member Dickie Harris added, “I’ve played in this tournament every year, and I don’t think anyone has shot that low.”
Fennel and Davis played with Hug Radler and his teenaged son Sawyer Radler, who matched them hole-for-hole for the first seven holes until falling two shots behind when Davis eagled No. 8.
Radler and Radler finished with a sizzling 60 themselves, but got to tee off first only after making a birdie three at the 11th hole.
That was one of just four holes where Fennel and Davis recorded a four. Everything else was lower. Their other fours came at the par-5 4th and 5th holes and the par-4 15th.
“They had a lot of fun,” Tarri Fennel said. “Hug Radler is like a mentor to Brady.”
Fennel and Davis celebrated by going to Fort Smith to spend Sunday afternoon water-skiing with Davis’ family.
When they return for the second round of the 36-hole tournament today, they’ll find much tougher course conditions.
Paul DeBoer, the hard-working PVAC superintendent, said, “Everyone played from the white tees in the first round, so the course played to about 6,100 yards. We’re going to set it up from the back of the tips on Monday.”
Murphy agreed, “It will play to almost 7,000 yards.”
That shouldn’t faze Davis, whose long driving first became familiar to Northwest Arkansas golf fans when he reached a sudden-death playoff in the 2002 Jack Karnes Memorial Tournament at Springdale Country Club. He lost to Philip Robertson’s birdie on the first extra hole.
In the 2003 Karnes event, Davis finished two shots out of a playoff.
At one time he envisioned playing both football and golf at Arkansas, but after his battlefield promotion to first-team punter last fall he’s sticking with that sport for now. First eyed as a placekicker, the strong-legged Davis could even try a long field goal in a pinch if needed.
Fennel is one of 10 freshmen listed on the 13-man UA golf team, along with two sophomores and junior Josh Farrell. Fennel did not make the five-player Hogs travel team for the NCAA Championships this week at Baltimore, Md., but another good round today would be a nice jump start for next season.
Besides the Radlers, two other teams impressed on Saturday. Kevin Strope and Dana Sera shot a 10-under-par 61, as did Sean Mulvenon and Bill Kelsay.
John Leonard and Randy Shankle shot a 62, while Jim Lindsey and his son Lyndy were at 63 along with Sam Muffoletto-Bob White, Dennis Collins-Kevin Rogerson and Jim Luper-A.J. James.
Carrying the mantle for senior golfers were former UA baseball coach Norm DeBriyn and former Ouachita Baptist tennis and basketball star David Kossover, who combined for a 70.
On hand for the weekend, taking a rest from pro golf, was David Dyer of Springdale, who recently shot a 5-under-par 31 (with a bogey) on the front nine at the Blessings Golf Club in Johnson, en route to a 69.
“I think Craig Lile has shot a 68 there,” Dyer said.
Dyer shot a 69 at Eagle Crest in Alma in an attempt to Monday-qualify for the Rheem Classic on the Nationwide Tour two weeks ago, missing by two strokes. His next event is at Texarkana on the Tight Lies Tour.
“That was my first time to play Eagle Crest,” Dyer said. “The course is in good shape.”
Chris Couch, the Rheem Classic winner at 15-under-par 265 at Hardscrabble Country Club in Fort Smith, shot a 73 at the Blessings in a warmup round that week in friendly competition with Deane and Brenden Pappas, Dyer and Jon Whittaker.
GRANT HALL IS A MORNING NEWS SPORTS WRITER. HIS COLUMN APPEARS EACH MONDAY. E-MAIL: GHALL@NWAONLINE.NET