Feb. 19, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina opens the spring portion of its 2011-12 men's golf schedule this weekend as it travels to Hilton Head Island, S.C., for the Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate, hosted by Francis Marion University. Both days begin with shotgun starts at 8:30 am.
The 54-hole tournament will be played with 36 holes on Monday, Feb. 20, with the final 18 contested on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the par-72, 6,828-yard course. In addition to WCU, the 17-team field includes fellow Southern Conference members Davidson, Elon (2008 tournament champion), Furman and Samford.
WCU finished 11th at the same tournament a year ago with Indiana claiming team championship honors.
Three Catamounts played in all five events during the fall including sophomores Jack Walsh and Greg Bunner, along with true freshman J.T. Poston who led the team with a 72.57 stroke average. The Hickory, N.C., native recorded three top 10 finishes in the fall, posting in a tied for eighth in his first collegiate event and a career-best finish at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate in a tie for sixth-place. Poston enters the spring ranked fifth in the SoCon in overall scoring average.
Walsh, who led WCU last year in scoring (75.29), is currently 24th in the SoCon with an average of 74.07 strokes per round with Bunner ranked 33rd with one less round in the fall, shooting an average of 75.43. Freshmen Charlie Kilzer (75.64) and Matthew Turner (79.63) both played in three events, joined by junior Trey White who stands third with a scoring average of 75.13, having competed in three events. White posted a career-low round of 68 at the Donald Ross Intercollegiate last fall.
As a squad, the Catamounts tallied two top-10 finishes, both coming in the final two events of the fall season. WCU was tied for fourth at the Donald Ross Intercollegiate and eighth in its own tournament, the Hummingbird Intercollegiate hosted at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley.
"Coming off our two best team finishes of the year in the final two tournaments of the fall, that positive momentum is a good way for us to begin the spring season," said head coach Carter Cheves. "Our schedule this spring presents a tough challenge for our team with an opportunity to move up the rankings fast with a few good finishes."
Western Carolina's roster gained some valuable experience during the break between the two parts of the season as Scottish junior transfer Steven Smith was cleared to participate and is eligible for competition. Smith, who played two seasons as the No. 1 golfer at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, finished fifth in the Scottish University Order of Merit Event 3 and the Scottish University Championships at the start of the 2010-11 season.
"Steven being eligible this semester provides our team with a big boost in experience and leadership. He will add quality depth to our starting line-up," said Cheves.
Practice rounds for the Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate get underway on Sunday with the 54-hole tournament slated for Monday and Tuesday.
Western Carolina's Lineup for the Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate:
Freshman J.T. Poston (72.57 stroke average in five fall events)
Sophomore Jack Walsh (74.07 stroke average in five fall events; 74.91 career average)
Junior Trey White - (75.13 stroke average in three fall events; 76.92 career average)
Junior Steven Smith (1st event of the season)
Sophomore Greg Bunner - (75.43 stroke average in five fall events; 77.38 career average)