Sept. 25, 2012
Related Link: St. Mary's Invitational Final Results
Seaside, Calif. -
Western Carolina put three golfers inside the final top 26 overall including two inside the top 10, carding its tournament-low round of 290 on Tuesday to finish in sixth place at the St. Mary's Invitational held at the Black Horse & Bayonet Golf Course. Sophomore J.T. Poston led the Catamounts, finishing in a two-way tie for fourth place with a two-day total of 214, while redshirt senior Kyle Wilson rallied to finish tied for 10th with three others three strokes back at 217.
WCU finished with team round scores of 303, 292 and 290 to shoot 885 collectively as a team, its best 54-hole showing since October of 2011 when it posted an 871 at the Donald Ross Intercollegiate at the Mimosa Hills Country Club.
Poston, who matched career-low, 18-hole score with a 66 in second round, recorded his career-best finish while also matching his best 54-hole tournament score of two-under par, 214 - just two strokes off the pace from the individual champion. Wilson, who carded a season-low 69 - one off his career best - in the final round, turned in his second-best career finish - and best showing since the fall of 2009.
"I'm really proud of our guys and how we finished this week," said WCU head coach Carter Cheves from California just after his squad finished their final round. "We had a very successful trip and gained a lot of confidence from our play out here against some very good competition."
Opening the final round on the par-4 seventh hole, Poston played his entire final 18 holes at either one-under or even par. Poston matched three bogies with three birdies and 12 pars to shoot even in the final round. The Hickory, N.C., native was poised to finish Tuesday at one-under before a bogey on his final hole - the par-3 sixth - left him at 72.
Wilson, who was tied for 23rd entering the final round on Tuesday morning, shot bogey on his first hole of the day - the par-5 eighth - before a birdie on another par five, No. 10, moved him back to even. Between the back and the front, Wilson recorded a nine-hole stretch of four-under par before a bogey with two holes to play left him a three under, 69, for the day.
All told, Wilson finished with a team-high 14 birdies and an Eagle during tournament play, just ahead of Poston who had 12 birdies and a team-best 33 pars.
Senior Steven Smith gained three spots in the final standings over the last 18 holes, shooting his best round of the tournament at an even-par 72 to finish tied for 26th overall at 222, his best 54-hole tournament score at WCU. Smith finished a close second on the team with 32 pars, adding eight birdies over the three-round event.
Rounding out the Catamount finishers were junior Greg Bunner who slipped into a tie for 66th place overall at 234 and redshirt sophomore Collin Witiak in 78th overall after shooting his best round of five-over, 77, for a two-day total of 239.
Tournament host St. Mary's (Calif.) held on for the tournament championship over a hard-charging Kentucky, which rallied from 10th after the opening round, finishing with a tourney-low round of 280 on Tuesday. St. Mary's finished with a two-day, three-round score of 860 while Kentucky was at 867, seven strokes in arrears. Oregon finished third at 874, followed by Fresno State (878) and Santa Clara (882).
Southern Conference foe Samford finished 12th overall with a 54-hole score of 908.
Ben Geyer of host St. Mary's turned in the tournament-low round of 65 on Tuesday to rally 19 spots in the final finishing order to claim individual medalist honors by a stroke over a two-way tie for second place. Geyer shot 75, 72 and 65 to finish at 212 while Jobim Carolos, playing unattached from San Francisco, and Scott Lowe from Santa Clara settled for second with matching scores of 213.
Western Carolina returns to action October 15-16 at the aforementioned Donald Ross Intercollegiate, hosted by Appalachian State at the Mimosa Hills Country Club. WCU finished fourth at last year's event with a season-low three-round score of 871, putting four golfers inside the top 26 finishers paced by Jack Walsh in a tie for 17th place overall.