March 2, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - The Western Carolina Catamount men's golf team opens its five-event spring semester March 3-4 at the 2014 Samford Intercollegiate hosted by fellow Southern Conference member, Samford, at the par-72, 7,001-yard Hoover Country Club in Hoover, Ala.
The 16-team field will play 36 holes on Monday with a shotgun start at 8:30 am CT / 9:30 am ET, followed by a 9:00 am CT / 10:00 am ET tee time for 18 holes on Tuesday. The teams will complete a practice round on Sunday morning.
In addition to the Catamounts and the host Bulldogs, the field includes one other SoCon foe in Georgia Southern. Other teams in the field include Austin Peay, Belmont, Bowling Green, Campbell, Eastern Kentucky, Francis Marion, Jacksonville State, Miles College, Montevallo, South Alabama, Southern Illinois, UAB and Western Kentucky.
Junior J.T. Poston, who paced the squad in all five of the events in the fall season, looks to guide the Catamounts in their first tournament of the spring semester. The Hickory, N.C., native finished the fall atop the GolfStat rankings with a 68.93 stroke average which leads the SoCon by over two and a half strokes. Poston garnered national attention by being listed on the Award Watch Lists for both the Haskins and Ben Hogan Awards.
Poston will be joined by classmates Matthew Turner and transfer Braydon Obremski, with freshmen Nont Panayanggool and Evan Smith rounding out the Catamount scoring five. Turner ranks third on the team overall with a 75.56 stroke average through the fall
Western Carolina looks to improve upon its seventh-place showing at the tournament a season ago, carding 898 as a team for the top 10 finish among the 18 schools represented. Poston, who is making his third appearance at the Samford Intercollegiate, finished tied for 14th in last year's field with Turner representing the only returning player from last year's tournament. Poston was 15th as a freshman.
"We are optimistic about starting the spring season this weekend at Samford Intercollegiate," said Western Carolina head coach, Bryant Odom. "J.T. (Poston) is coming off a phenomenal fall that landed him on two national award watch lists for the best in college golf. (Matthew) Turner looks to carry over his momentum from a top 20 finish at Hummingbird, while freshmen (Nont) Panayanggool and (Evan) Smith continue to gain valuable experience. Braydon Obremski will make his debut for the Cats as we open this spring."
WCU tallied three, top 10 finishes as a team in the fall, bookending the semester with a pair of fifth-place ties at both the season-opening Golfweek Program Challenge and home Hummingbird Intercollegiate at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley.
"Since our final event of the fall, the team has focused on both fitness and our wedge games this off-season - two variables that greatly influence the outcome of an event," Odom said.
WCU's five spring events will be spread through three states including the first two in Alabama followed by a pair in South Carolina, concluding with the conference championship in North Carolina. After the Samford Intercollegiate, the squad returns to the "Yellowhammer State" to play in the Tiger Invitational at Grand National in Opelika, Ala.
March concludes with the first of back-to-back trips to the Upstate of South Carolina. On March 28-30, Western Carolina competes in the 45th annual Furman Intercollegiate. Last season, Poston tallied 13 birdies to lead two Catamounts in the top 20 in a tie for fourth-place as WCU finished sixth as a team - its best showing of the spring semester. Two weeks later, WCU will tee-off in the Wofford Invitational at the Country Club of Spartanburg, April 14-15. It is the second-straight year the Catamounts have entered the conference-foe's event, and the fourth-time overall in the history of the tournament.
The 2013-14 regular season concludes with the 2014 Southern Conference Men's Golf Championship to be held at the National Golf Club in Pinehurst, N.C. The Catamounts look to improve upon back-to-back 10th-place showings in the tournament
"Looking ahead at the season, we have some strong events in Furman and Auburn leading up to the Southern Conference championship in April," Odom said. "I feel that J.T. is on the right path for a berth into NCAA regional competition and a national award for his fine play."