Cullowhee, N.C. - Eleven combined tournaments split over both semesters headline Western Carolina's 2014-15 men's golf schedule unveiled today by second-year head coach Bryant Odom. The slate is divided with five tournament in the fall portion of the schedule and six events in the spring including the 2015 Southern Conference Men's Golf Championship in mid-April back in Pinehurst, N.C.
The Catamounts are scheduled to participate in two tournaments for the first time, competing in the Pinetree Intercollegiate in Kennesaw, Ga., in late October and traveling to the Gary Koch Invitational in Gastonia, N.C., in early April.
"I'm really excited about our 2014-15 schedule. We will see a lot of different and a variety of competition through all of our events," said Odom. "Each event will offer different challenges between the course and the other teams; but each will allow us the opportunity to make the needed improvements as we eye a conference championship and return to the NCAA post-season."
WCU opens play in mid-September at The Invitational at the Ocean Course in what Odom expects to be a highly competitive field. The three-day, 54-hole event is hosted by the College of Charleston at Kiawah Island. Two weeks later, WCU heads for the Bluegrass State to again compete in the Cardinal Intercollegiate, hosted by the Univ. of Louisville. WCU returnee J.T. Poston claimed individual medalist honors at the two-day, three-round event a season ago.
Two tournaments dot the October calendar for the Catamounts including a return to the Wolfpack Intercollegiate (Oct. 6-7), hosted by North Carolina State on the Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh, and the aforementioned Kennesaw State-sponsored Pinetree Intercollegiate (Oct. 20-21). Both events are formatted with 36 holes on the first day followed by a third round of 18.
On the first weekend of November, Western Carolina and the pristine Country Club of Sapphire Valley will play host to the annual Hummingbird Intercollegiate. It is the eighth-straight season - and ninth time overall - that WCU and CCSV have closed the fall semester by hosting the tournament. The 2014 event will be a two-round, 36-hole format contested on Nov. 1-2 with the practice round on Oct. 31.
WCU finished tied for fifth a season ago at the Hummingbird Intercollegiate with Poston taking home top honors, his third of the fall, 2013 semester.
"We are very grateful once again for the opportunity to host our home tournament - the Hummingbird Intercollegiate - at the beautiful Country Club of Sapphire Valley," said Odom. "We call it our home course for so many reasons; the club membership and all of their staff have embraced both our team and this event for so many years. It really goes without saying, but this is again a great opportunity for us to play a solid, national field while showcasing this special place we call home."
WCU's spring semester opens in late February back in the South Carolina Lowcountry at the Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate (Feb. 23-24). The two-day, three-round tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C., is hosted by Francis Marion.
Two tournaments in March will also be held in South Carolina. WCU is entered in the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate, hosted by USC Aiken March 9-10, followed by the Furman Intercollegiate on March 27-29, on-campus in Greenville, S.C. The latter is a three-day event with 18 holes each day.
In April, the Catamounts will for the first time take part in the Gary Koch Invitational (April 6-7), co-hosted by Southeastern Conference (SEC) foes, Auburn and Kentucky. The head coaches at the two schools - Auburn's Nick Clinard and Brian Craig of Kentucky - are both natives of Gastonia, N.C., prompting the tournament in their hometown at the Gaston Country Club.
"I feel the most competitive field we will see all year will be in the Gary Koch Invitational in early April," said Odom. "This should serve as a great tune-up for the final two events of our regular season, including the Southern Conference championship."
WCU concludes its regular season by returning to the Wofford Intercollegiate for a three-round tournament, April 13-14.
The 2015 Southern Conference Men's Golf Championship will again be held at the former National Golf Club - now Pinehurst No. 9 - in Pinehurst, N.C. The 79th installment of the season-closing tournament is scheduled for three-days and 54 holes beginning April 18 with a practice round with competition April 19-21
Western Carolina returns six players from last year's roster including the reigning SoCon Men's Golfer of the Year, J.T. Poston. A rising senior, Poston established a single-season benchmark a year ago with a stroke average of 70.27. He enters his final season atop WCU's career scoring average ledger at 71.97 through 97 career rounds.
Poston is joined by classmates Matthew Turner, who finished fourth in scoring average a year ago, and Braydon Obremski. Junior Tyler Lail returns after a career-best seasonal stroke average of 75.44 in 2013-14, with second-year golfers Nont Panayanggool (78.11) and Evan Smith (79.47) back after their rookie campaigns.
"Looking ahead to the season, we have two talented freshmen joining our returning golfers, who are very eager to pick up where we left off at the end of last spring. We played a lot of younger golfers near the end of last season and those returning players gained invaluable on-the-course experience. I felt we were so very close to reaching full potential when last year came to a close. With J.T. returning to the NCAA regional as an individual, it has added even more motivation for us to advance to post-season play as a team." Odom said.