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Cullowhee, N.C. – A total of 84 golfers representing 16 different NCAA institutions converge on the mountains of Western North Carolina this weekend as the Western Carolina men’s golf team hosts the 2018 Hummingbird Intercollegiate, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 at the beautiful Country Club of Sapphire Valley.

Live scoring of the tournament will be available both days and for all three rounds online at GolfStat.com. Additional updates will be made periodically through Twitter using the handle, @Catamounts and @GolfWCU.

This season marks the 12th-consecutive year – and the 13th time overall – that WCU and the Country Club of Sapphire Valley (CCSV) have hosted an intercollegiate men’s golf tournament. With play slated on the first week of October for the second-straight year, it marks the earliest date of competition in the tournament’s history, an event that has traditionally been held in late October / early November.

Also, for just the third-time in tournament history, the 2018 Hummingbird Intercollegiate will play out at a 54-hole format with 36 holes of competition with a shotgun start on Monday, Oct. 1 and the third and final round to tee-off on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 2. Festivities get underway on Sunday, Sept. 30 with a special Member-Player practice round at CCSV. The 84-golfer field will again play one of the region’s most pristine courses during the special time of year as the peaks of the mountainous terrain begins to be painted with the hues of autumn.

“Another fall and another great time of year to spend at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley,” said Western Carolina head men’s golf coach Tim Eckberg, who also played the course over two years between 2002-04 as a member of the WCU men’s golf team. “We are fortunate to once again host the Hummingbird Intercollegiate at this spectacular venue in front of the great members and our supporters in purple. This event has developed a strong tradition of great players coming through. That list includes many current and former PGA Tour, Web.com Tour and European Tour players and winners, as well as US Amateur Champions. It’s an incredible golf course and I’m proud to showcase some of the best college golf in the country here once again.”

A combined 16 teams – 15 vying for the tournament team championship and one additional squad sending individuals – comprise the 84-golfer field. In addition to the host Catamounts, WCU and the CCSV welcomes golfers from Austin Peay, Belmont, Central Arkansas, Charleston Southern, Chattanooga, Eastern Kentucky, Elon, Florida Atlantic, Gardner-Webb, Georgia Southern, Morehead State, Stetson, Tennessee Tech, and Wofford, with individual competitors from Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) member, Clemson.

A total of 10 different teams have claimed the championship in the 12 previous Hummingbird Intercollegiate tournaments including two winning it twice – Western Carolina (2007, 2016) and Wofford (2013, 2015). In addition to both the Catamounts and Terriers, a combined four programs that have hoisted the team championship trophy are in this year’s field including defending event champion, Gardner-Webb, and the first team champion, Charleston Southern which won the crown back in 2004. Three teams are slated to compete in the field for the first time as golfers representing Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, and Stetson venture to Sapphire for the first time.

WCU’s Hummingbird Intercollegiate has never has a repeat individual winner, though three schools have seen an individual take the top spot. A tourney-high three Catamounts have stood atop the podium at their home event including Dylan MacQueen (2016), current PGA Tour member J.T. Poston (2013), and Andres Cuenca (2007), the latter winning in the event’s return to the CCSV. Both Furman and Vanderbilt have had two individual medalists dating back to 2004.

Playing at a par-71, 6,767-yard layout, the beautiful Country Club of Sapphire Valley is a private, member-owned club that features a valley golf course, plush clubhouse, state-of-the-art fitness center, and tennis center. The course meanders through the backdrop of a mature hardwood forest and the scenic mountains of the southern Appalachians that provide for breath taking views and a natural setting. The course, which sits on a level valley floor despite its mountainous surroundings, was originally designed by George Cobb and was updated by Bill Bergin.

Two of the previous 12 Hummingbird Intercollegiate golf tournaments have been decided by a single stroke. Clemson edged SoCon-foe, Furman, by a single marker in 2014 with UCF rallying past Vanderbilt in 2008 for a one-stroke victory, using a tournament-record 36-hole score of 557.

In similar fashion, the individual race has finished tied just twice – the aforementioned 2004 tournament involving Tyburski and Radford’s Aaron Summers in which Summers claimed in the only playoff in event history. The other tie came in 2014 due to weather.

Gardner-Webb claimed the 2017 installment of the tournament, riding a strong opening 36 holes to set a tournament-record, 54-hole score of 856 to hold off hard-charging Elon (859). Following back-to-back, weather-shortened events in 2014 and 2015, Western Carolina led start-to-finish in 2016 and cruised to the team championship on its home course.

Western Carolina’s four-returning golfers will make a return trip to their home course looking to build upon experiences gained in 2017. Sophomores Chandler Metz and Michael Coe – who played unattached as an individual – posted the best finish among the returning foursome in a tie for 45th in 2017 as the Catamounts came home in a tie for seventh overall.

Fresh off a 10th-place tie in his collegiate debut, Catamount freshman Tumi Kúld leads the WCU scoring five in the No. 1 position in his first appearance at the home tournament. The Icelandic rookie will be flanked by Colchester, England, native George Whitbread in the No. 2 spot with Belgian freshman Louis Theys making his collegiate debut in the No. 3 position. Returning sophomores Zach Caudill and Michael Coe round out the WCU lineup.

For the second-straight season, Metz will compete as an individual competitor.

“We are ready to show the hard work we have put in over the past five weeks,” Eckberg said of his squad getting back into action at the home Hummingbird Intercollegiate. “We knew we had work to do – and we still do. But I feel that we are heading in the right direction. It has been a grind, and each player is getting stronger and stronger. I’m looking forward to seeing how we handle ourselves this week as we take another step towards becoming the team we are capable of being.”

Complete results and recaps of both days will be made available at the conclusion of play Monday and Tuesday.

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