Oct. 25, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Playing on one of the region's most pristine courses during the special time of year that has the mountainous terrain painted with the hues of autumn, Western Carolina men's golf and the Country Club of Sapphire Valley will again host the Hummingbird Intercollegiate, November 2-4 in Sapphire.
Western Carolina wraps up the fall portion of its 2012-13 schedule by hosting the 36-hole, stroke play event, welcoming 12 other teams to the resort town for the three-day event. It is the sixth-consecutive year - and seventh time overall - that WCU and the Country Club of Sapphire Valley have hosted this intercollegiate golf tournament.
The 2012 installment of the event gets underway with a practice round on Friday, Nov. 2 with the two, 18-hole rounds slated for Saturday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 4. The event is open to the public with free admission. Fans can follow all of the action from the 2012 Hummingbird Intercollegiate with live scoring through www.GolfStatResults.com.
"What a great partnership we have and an honor to be able to host a collegiate golf tournament at a facility as great as the Country Club of Sapphire Valley," said WCU head men's golf coach, Carter Cheves. "It truly is a privilege for both our men's and women's programs to be able to use this course for practice, and is just amazing in the job everyone at the course does in helping us host a first-class tournament."
Cheves added, "The grounds crew always has the course in perfect condition. The membership comes out to volunteer and really supports all of the teams. The Country Club of Sapphire Valley is a great venue for college golf and we are lucky to be able to call it home."
Groups will tee off on both the front and back nines with front nine tee times beginning at 9:00 am with the back nine starting at 9:05 am, both with nine minute intervals. Five players will compete for each team with the best scores of the top four counting each day. Western Carolina will tee off on the front nine beginning at 10:30 am on Saturday, Nov. 3.
A combined 13 teams and 14 individual players representing six different states will comprise the 79-golfer field all vying for both the team and individual titles at the 2012 Hummingbird Intercollegiate. In addition to the host Catamounts, the only other previous tournament champion in this year's field is the defending team title holder, Appalachian State. The Mountaineers carded the tournament-record low team round of273 to claimed the 2011 crown by two strokes over second-place, UAB.
Three other Southern Conference schools return to the southern mountains of Western North Carolina including Elon, Samford and Wofford. Others include Army, Belmont, Colgate, Francis Marion, Gardner-Webb, Guilford, High Point and IPFW to round out the competing teams.
Nine of the teams attending this year's tournament are ranked inside the national top 200 including WCU which ranks a tourney-high, 95th. One team - Guilford College - ranks as the No. 11 team at the NCAA Division III level.
Western Carolina first hosted an event at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley in 2004 as Charleston Southern carded a six-under, 570, to win the WCU Intercollegiate. The Catamounts returned to the CCSV in 2007 for the first Hummingbird Intercollegiate. Battling blustery conditions, Western Carolina built upon its five-stroke opening round edge over Vanderbilt to cruise to the team title by a combined 17 strokes.
Vanderbilt was again in contention for the team title in 2008, nearly rallying past first-round leader Central Florida on the final day. However, the Golden Knights staved off the Commodores over the final three holes as UCF claimed team honors by a stroke despite Vandy's tournament single-round low of 275 over the final 18 holes.
SoCon foe, Furman, erased a six stroke deficit over the final six holes to rally past Kentucky to win the 2009 Hummingbird Intercollegiate, with Jacksonville becoming the sixth-different team to claim championship honors in the six-year involvement with WCU and the Country Club of Sapphire Valley.
Two seasons ago, Jacksonville carded the third-lowest, 36-hole team score in tournament history to rally from third place to win the event. The Dolphins carded a two-day, two-round score of 563 to defeat third-time runner-up, Vanderbilt, by six strokes. And most recently, the Mountaineers set the standard for the event last season with their three-under par 273 in the final round to win the team championship.
The Country Club of Sapphire Valley is a private, member-owned club that features a valley golf course, plush clubhouse, state-of-the-art fitness center and tennis center. The course, which plays at par-71 and 6,767 yards, meanders through the backdrop of a mature hardwood forest and scenic mountains that provide for breath taking views and a natural setting. The course, which sits on a level valley floor despite its mountainous surroundings, was originally designed by George Cobb and was updated by Bill Bergin.
The peaks of the southern Appalachian Mountains and the fall foliage colors provide a magnificent setting for the final team tournament of the season for the Catamount men's golf team.
Western Carolina has twice had the top finisher with Andres Cuenca (2006-09) winning individual medalist honors in 2007, guiding the squad to its lone team championship, and Keith Tyburski (2003-06) finishing as one of the top golfers only to fall on the second playoff hole back in 2004.
Tyburski, currently the head coach at Colgate, brings his squad to Western North Carolina for the second-time since taking over the reins of the Raiders' men's golf program during the summer of 2010.
The Catamounts are looking to finish off a strong fall start to 2012-13. WCU has posted four, top 10 finishes so far in 2012, the most since also tallying four top 10 showings in the fall of 2007 - which included winning the WCU Intercollegiate, the previous name of the Hummingbird Intercollegiate held at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley. All told in 2007-08, the Catamounts had six, top five finishes and eight top 10 outings collectively as a team.
WCU is coming off a fourth place showing as a team at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate last week - its second fourth-place finish of the season including the season-opening event at the Golfweek Program Challenge.
All nine eligible golfers on Western Carolina's roster will see action at this year's Hummingbird Intercollegiate - five on the scoring side and four unattached as individuals.
"We have had some nice results this fall and a win at the Hummingbird would cap off a very successful start to the 2012-2013 season," Cheves said.
Sophomore J.T. Poston has led the Catamounts in all four seasonal events, entering the Hummingbird Intercollegiate ranked 29th in the East region, 54th among NCAA Division I golfers and 91st in the nation at all NCAA divisions according to the latest GolfStat rankings. He has a seasonal stroke average of 71.00, currently second in the SoCon through 12 rounds.
Senior Steven Smith is ranked fifth in the SoCon in scoring average at 73.33 per round while classmate Kyle Wilson is ninth in the league at 73.83. Smith has carded his career-low round of 69 twice thus far this season, and also recorded his career-best finish by placing just outside the top 10 in a tie for 11th place at the Donald Ross Intercollegiate. Wilson likewise posted a single round score of 69 this fall, guiding him to a 10th-place showing at the Saint Mary's Invitational.
Of the remaining six golfers on the Catamount roster, five have tournament experience at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley. Junior Greg Bunner is averaging 74.50 through two previous tournaments in Sapphire, while classmate Jack Walsh has averaged 71.50 through four rounds in his first two tourney appearances including a career-best finish of tied for sixth in 2010.
Senior Trey White will make his fourth career appearance in the Hummingbird Intercollegiate, averaging 75.67 strokes per round through his first three events, while sophomore Matthew Turner averaged 78.50 per round in his first experience last fall.
The lone member of the roster making his first tournament appearance at the Hummingbird Intercollegiate is freshman Tyler Lail, who is coming off a career-best finish of 24th at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate last week.
Complete results and recaps will be made available online at www.CatamountSports.com, at the conclusion of each round.