Nov. 3, 2013
Sapphire, N.C. - Belmont carded an opening round, one-under par, 283, as a team on Sunday to hold a four-stroke edge over second-place Appalachian State (287) and the remainder of the 10-team field after 18 holes at the 2013 Hummingbird Intercollegiate, hosted by Western Carolina at the par-71, 6,767-yard Country Club of Sapphire Valley. The Catamounts shot 294 collectively in the first round to sit in a tie for fifth with Wofford College.
Entering the week as the top-ranked golfer in the most-recent GolfStat Cup rankings, Western Carolina junior J.T. Poston is tied atop the leaderboard with the Belmont duo of Sean Buchanan and Ashton Van Horne as the trio carded matching scores of two-under par, 69. Mario Funcic of Cardinal Stritch University is fourth a stroke in arrears just ahead of a five-way tie for fifth place at even-par, 71.
The start the opening round on Sunday morning was delayed 45 minutes due to frost across the valley floor. Monday's second round and Tuesday's final round are scheduled for tee-times beginning at 9:30 am, but are subject to frost delays.
Belmont put three of its counting four scorers among the Top 10 on Sunday as Van Horne and Buchanan were trailed by Ben Simpson in a five-way tie for 10th-place at one-over par, 72. Currently in the runner-up position, Appalachian State likewise had three golfers in the Top 10 as Casey Komline and Caleb Keck are in the clubhouse tied for fifth at even-par, 71, and Lee Mitchell is in the fifth-place tie.
Tennessee Tech is five-strokes off the pace in third after shooting 288 with Samford (291), Wofford (294) Western Carolina (294) rounding out the Top Five. Gardner-Webb shot 298, four-strokes behind the two-way tie for fifth in seventh, with Colgate (8th, 303), Evansville (9th, 305) and Cardinal Stritch (10th, 308) rounding out the field.
Belmont's Van Horne overcame a double-bogey on the eighth hole of his opening round, charting six birdies on Sunday while his teammate, Buchanan, had five birdies and worked through a triple-bogey with six holes to play. Poston carded 12 pars in the opening round, countering a pair of back-to-back bogies on the seventh and eighth holes with four birdies. The Hickory, N.C., native shot three-under par on the back nine, heating up on an otherwise seasonably crisp afternoon.
Catamount senior Jack Walsh is tied for 10th after shooting a season-low round of one-over par, 72, on Sunday. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native made the turn to the back-nine at two-over par. He sandwiched birdies on the par-4 12th and par-5 14th around a bogey on the par-4 No. 13 to shoot one-under on the back nine.
Sophomore Tyler Lail, who led WCU with a fourth-place finish at the same event a year ago, shot two-over par, 73, in this year's opening round. Lail was even through eight holes after countering a bogey on No. 4 with a birdie on the par-5, 507-yard sixth, but a double-bogey on No. 9 left him making the turn at two-over. A second double-bogey on his round on No. 11 put him to four-over before the Conover, N.C., native finished his round with birdies on No. 12 and 16.
Rounding out WCU's scoring five were junior Collin Witiak and senior Greg Bunner in a tie for 48th overall at nine-over, 80. Witiak birdied the par-3 11th, but shot bogey-or-worse on eight holes while Bunner had seven bogies and one double-bogey over the opening 18 holes.
Playing unattached, WCU's Evan Smith was the top performer among the six individuals in the field, shooting the best round of his young collegiate career at one-over par, 72, to sit tied for 10th. Smith, who leads the tournament in par-5 scoring (-3, 4.00) had a noisy back nine with two bogies and one double, countered by three birdies to make the turn at one-over par. On the back nine, an eagle on the par-5 sixth moved him to even-par for the round until a bogey on No. 8 left him one-over for the round.
Also playing as individuals, Matthew Turner and Alex Simmons are tied for 24th overall at three-over par, 74. Turner had 13 pars, four bogies and one birdie while Simmons, who was making his WCU debut, overcame seven holes of bogey-or-worse with four birdies and the second of two eagles carded by the field on the day.
Catamount freshman Nont Panayanggool rounded out the four individuals for WCU, shooting seven-over par, 78. The Chiang Mia, Thailand, product overcame bogey-or-worse on five of his first seven holes, playing the remainder of his day - the final 11 holes - at one-over with two bogies and a birdie on the par-4 fourth.
Paired with golfers from fellow Southern Conference foes Samford and Wofford, WCU's scoring five is scheduled to tee off on the front nine beginning at 9:30 am with co-leader, Poston, teeing off at approximately 10:10 am. WCU's four individuals hit the course on the back nine beginning at 9:35 am.
Live scoring for the 2013 Hummingbird Intercollegiate is available online through GolfStatResults.com with a complete recap available online at the conclusion of each round on CatamountSports.com.
Additional Tournament Notes:
* Two former Catamount men's golfers return to Western North Carolina for the 2013 Hummingbird Intercollegiate: Keith Tyburski, a previous co-medalist of a WCU-hosted event at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley (2004) brought his Colgate Raiders back to the mountains for a third season ... Former Catamount Tim Eckberg, who played two seasons at WCU, is the first head men's and women's head golf coach at Cardinal Stritch Wolves, a NAIA program out of Milwaukee, Wisc.