Nov. 5, 2013
Sapphire, N.C. - On the strength of a school-record, 54-hole score of 204, Western Carolina junior J.T. Poston claimed his third individual medalist honors of the season by winning the 2013 Hummingbird Intercollegiate at The Country Club of Sapphire Valley. Fellow Southern Conference foe, Wofford, took home top team honors at the tournament, edging Appalachian State by four strokes and rallying past Belmont by six on the par-71, 6,767-yard course, which was in pristine condition for the collegiate event.
The host Catamounts finished tied for fifth-place in its final event of the fall portion of its 2013-14 schedule. It was WCU's second top five finish of the fall season.
Poston improved upon his daily scores each round en route to a six-stroke victory over runner-up, Clement Kurniawan of Gardner-Webb. Poston led with 16 birdies, pacing the 56-golfer field in par-4 scoring (-2, 3.94) and was tied for first in both par-3 (-1, 2.92) and par-5 (-6, 4.33) scoring. Kurniawan, who turned in the tournament's lowest round this year at 66 on Monday, shot two-under, 69, to stand with Poston as the only two to shoot below par.
On Tuesday, Poston made the turn at two-under par with a birdie on the par-4 ninth. He then made it three birdies in a row with back-to-back scores of one-under on No. 10 and 11 to move to four-under par. After a bogey on No. 12, the Hickory, N.C., native moved to five-under with two more birdies on the 14th and 15th before finishing his round with a bogey on No. 18.
Poston shared the previous school benchmark at 205 carded in the season-opening event at the GolfWeek Program Challenge, which matched former record holder, Andres Cuenca, who fired his three-round 205 at the Aldila Intercollegiate in Chattanooga, Tenn., in the fall of 2008. Poston also becomes just the second Catamount to win three tournaments in one portion of a season, matching Matt Cook who claimed medalist honors in three-straight back in the fall of 2006.
Poston is just the second Catamount men's golfer to officially win top honors at a WCU event hosted at The Country Club of Sapphire Valley. Cuenca claimed outright individual medalist honors in the 2007 WCU Intercollegiate, presented by Macon Bank. Also, Keith Tyburski finished atop the leader board in regulation in the 2004 WCU Intercollegiate only to fall on the second hole of a playoff.
For the seventh-straight year - and eighth year all-told - the 2013 Hummingbird Intercollegiate was a success and a premier tournament thanks to the efforts of the venue, its staff and members. The Country Club of Sapphire Valley and its national membership takes pride each year in hosting the collegiate event, welcoming 56 student-athlete - including the nation's top-ranked golfer - to its course for this year's four-day event. With the fall foliage providing the backdrop, the course for the 2013 installment was in near-perfect condition thanks to the hard-working staff.
Team champion, Wofford, moved from a two-way tie for third after 36 holes, four-strokes off the pace to the top of the leader board over the back nine on Tuesday. The Terriers finished with a 54-hole score of eight-over par, 860, while second-round leader, Appalachian State, faded into the runner-up spot just four strokes back at 864.
Belmont (866) finished third followed by Tennessee Tech (869) and a two-way tie for fifth-place between Western Carolina and Gardner-Webb at 870. Samford finished seventh at 875 with Colgate (895), Evansville (896) and Cardinal Stritch University (926) rounding out the 10-team field.
Wofford is the eighth different team champion among the eight tournaments held at The Country Club of Sapphire Valley. The Terriers are the third-straight SoCon team to win the event, denying 2011 champion, ASU, from becoming the first team to repeat with 2012 title holder, with defending tournament champion, Samford, finishing seventh this year.
Behind Poston's nine-under par, 204, Western Carolina sophomore Tyler Lail finished in a tie for 21st overall at seven-over, 220 - his career-best, 54-hole tournament score with rounds of 73, 73 and 74. Lail, who paced the tournament with 39 pars, fell to three-over par through the first three holes of his final round on Tuesday with a double-bogey and bogey on holes number two and three. However, he birdied the par-4 ninth to make the turn at two-over where he remained until a bogey on No. 15 left him at three-over for the round.
Catamount senior Jack Walsh (221) finished tied for 27th in his final appearance at the Hummingbird Intercollegiate, capping his tourney with a four-over par, 75. The Lawrenceville, Ga., product twice overcame double-bogies on the front nine Tuesday. He made the final turn at three-over par and played plus-one on the back nine.
Rounding out WCU's scoring five, redshirt junior Collin Witiak shot one-over par, 72, on the final day to finish tied for 37th at 226 with senior Greg Bunner finishing tied for 41st overall, matching his second-round three-over 74 on the last day to turn in a 228 for the event. Witiak had two birdies and an eagle in the final round, shooting even par on the back nine while Bunner had four birdies and eight pars in his last competitive round at The Country Club of Sapphire Valley.
Playing unattached, Catamount junior Matthew Turner finished tied for 17th overall with his career-low, 54-hole score of 219. The Hickory, N.C., product posted rounds of 74, 73 and one-over par, 72, on Tuesday to rank as the highest finishing individual. Over his final 18 holes, Turner countered five bogies with four birdies, playing the front nine at one-under par and birdying a hole he double-bogeyed on Monday.
Also playing as individuals, WCU's Alex Simmons placed in a tie for 21st at 220 in his Catamount debut with freshmen Nont Panayanggool (35th-t, 225) and Evan Smith (44th, 229) also seeing action with Smith recording his career-low, 54-hole tournament score. Simmons matched Poston for the tournament's par-5 scoring lead (-6, 4.33). He also finished with 13 birdies, the third-most among the field.
Western Carolina does not return to competitive action until the first weekend of March for its first of two consecutive trips to the state of Alabama. The Catamounts travel to the Samford Intercollegiate at the Hoover Country Club March 3-4, 2014. A week later, WCU will play in a tough Tiger Invitational field, hosted by Auburn at Grand National in Opelika, Ala.
Additional Tournament Notes:
* 2013 was the eighth time - and seventh consecutive year - that Western Carolina partnered with The Country Club of Sapphire Valley to host an intercollegiate golf tournament;
* Wofford College became the eighth different team to win a WCU-hosted event at The Country Club of Sapphire Valley all-time ... the Terriers are the THIRD-straight Southern Conference team to claim top honors, joining Samford (2012) and Appalachian State (2011);
* 2013 marked the first year the tournament played out at a length of 54 holes ... the previous seven tournaments were two-day, 36-hole events;
* Gardner-Webb individual Clement Kurniawan's second round of five-under par, 66, was tied for the fourth-best individual round in tournament history ... Wofford's team round of 280 on Monday was tied for the ninth-best 18-hole round in tournament history;
* 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.