As one of West Virginia’s most successful high school golfers over the last decade, Bridgeport’s Mason Williams carried with him a certain level of expectation when he set off to Georgia Southern last fall.
The freshman has lived up to those expectations in some events, while not playing up to his standards in others.
Through it all, however, Williams has been an integral part of the Georgia Southern golf team just months after wrapping up his stellar career at Bridgeport.
“You kind of realize at this level golf is not that different,” Williams said. “It’s much more of a mental game and I learned that my first semester. It’s a challenge being so far away from home those first couple weeks, but I think it’s helped me grow a ton. I always wanted to drift out and do my own thing, which I have and it’s nice.”
In addition to earning all-state honors each of his four years at Bridgeport, Williams was the Class AA low medalist at the state match as a sophomore and a senior.
He also holds the state high school record for lowest nine-hole score with a 29.
“I knew I had the capability to play here,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, it’s golf. It’s not college golf or high school golf as much as it’s golf. When I’m on the course I don’t think about much else. I’ve played in so many tournaments out of state and I think about it more like me against the golf course instead of me against the other team.”
The freshman has played in all nine tournaments for the Eagles this season, twice competing as an individual, but otherwise factoring into his team’s score.
Williams played as an individual in the team’s first tournament in the fall and got off to a rough start, carding an 82 in the Invitational at The Ocean Course.
The following week at the Shoal Creek Invitational, Williams had rounds of 75-74-74 and finished 7-over par.
Then came the highlight of his collegiate career thus far, when Williams finished tied for fifth at 7-under par in the Hummingbird Intercollegiate. After an opening round 71, Williams came back with a 70 and then finished with a 65. He carded 14 birdies over the three rounds.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play in so many tournaments on a team with twelve guys who could all start at any time,” Williams said. “You know you have to play well each day. There’s no going out and slacking and getting by.
“It’s a mental battle more than a physical battle. We all have good physical attributes.”
Williams finished the fall portion of the season at 2-under par and 1-under par in the Fighting Irish Classic and AutoTrader Collegiate Classic, respectively.
He hasn’t played as well in the spring through Georgia Southern’s first three tournaments — finishing 11-over par in each of the first two and 9-over at last week’s Schenkel Invitational.
“My short game and putting was really good in the fall and kind of saved me,” Williams said. “I wedged it well and got up and down from a lot of places.
“In the spring, I’ve hit it decent, but need to hit more greens. Overall, my short game has gotten a lot better.”
Including this week’s Tar Heel Intercollegiate, the Eagles have two regular season tournaments remaining before the Sun Belt Championship from April 21-24.
“The biggest difference is you play all year round,” Williams said. “You have to focus on the long term more than the short term. In April, you fit a ton of practice into a short amount of time. But it’s all about how you progress as a whole — not over a short amount of time.”