Cullowhee, N.C. – The Western Carolina men’s golf team opens the fall portion of its 2018-19 schedule this weekend, traveling to Kiawah Island, S.C., for The Invitational at The Ocean Course, hosted by the College of Charleston. The three-round, three-day event is being contested at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort on the par-72, 7,324-yard Ocean Course.
Live scoring of each round is available online at www.GolfStat.com with live links through CatamountSports.com.
In addition to the Catamounts and the tournament-host Cougars, the 14-team field includes Akron, Charleston Southern, Elon, Francis Marion, George Mason, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, High Point, James Madison, Maryland, Ole Miss, and SMU.
For the opening tournament of 2018, the Catamount scoring five will be led by a true freshman in Tumi Kúld. A native of Akureyri, Iceland, Kúld claimed the No. 1 position through practice and pre-event qualifying rounds in which WCU head coach Tim Eckberg called “impressive.” As a junior golfer, Kúld has six, top 10 international finishes on the World Amateur Golf tour on a strong amateur resumé.
Kúld will be flanked by the squad’s lone senior in George Whitbread, entering his second season for the Purple & Gold. Whitbread carded 22 of his 31 rounds a season ago in the 70s.
Rounding out WCU’s lineup will be a trio of sophomores in Chandler Metz, Michael Coe, and Zach Caudill. Led by Coe who finished second on the 2017-18 squad in stroke average at 77.07, WCU’s three second-year strikers each played in eight-or-more tournaments a season ago while playing 23-or-more rounds apiece.
“It’s a spoiled life getting to look forward all summer to Kiawah Island and The Ocean Course, but it’s finally here,” said Eckberg ahead of his squad’s opening event. “We’ve put in a lot of work and have made big changes in nearly every one of our guys already this preseason. They’ve been hard at work to get these things to click and each practice has been better and better.”
Eckberg added, “It’s been a hard couple of weeks with the injury to one of our top freshmen, but it really has put things into perspective. These guys have bonded and have worked extremely hard; now the fun starts. If we can trust and stay committed, I’m confident that we can put some good rounds on the board.”
The Ocean Course has played host to such events as the 2007 Senior PGA and 2012 PGA Championships and is slated to host the 2021 PGA Championship tournament. The Ocean Course is only the fourth course to host each of the PGA of America’s major championships. Perhaps no other course in the world outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland is affected as much by the wind than The Ocean Course. Located on the eastern-most end of Kiawah Island, The Ocean Course has more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern hemisphere.
“The Ocean Course is one of the best courses in the world and I’m excited to see how our guys play and the development of each one of them this offseason,” said Eckberg.
Middle Tennessee shot a three-round 850 (-14) to claim the 2016 tournament title while Ole Miss – which is back in the field this year – was the runner-up at 8-under par, followed by Maryland (-5) and Georgia Southern (-4). Last year’s tournament was
Complete recaps of each round of the 2018-19 season-opening event will be posted online at CatamountSports.com.