Oct. 28, 2011
Related Link: Video Preview of the 2011 Hummingbird Intercollegiate
Cullowhee, N.C. - For the fifth-consecutive year - and the sixth time overall - Western Carolina University and the Country Club of Sapphire Valley are scheduled to host the 2011 Hummingbird Intercollegiate. The 2011 installment of the event gets underway with a practice round on Sunday, Oct. 30 with the two-round, 36-hole event slated for Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
*UPDATED: Groups will tee off on both the front and back nines with front nine tee times beginning at 10:00 am with the back nine starting at 10:05 am. The start was moved back an hour due to the colder temperatures that moved into the region over the weekend and frost on the course during the morning hours. Five players will compete for each team with the best scores of the top four counting each day.
Fans can follow all of the action from the 2011 Hummingbird Intercollegiate with live scoring through www.GolfStatResults.com.
A combined 17 teams and seven individual players representing eight different states will comprise the 92-golfer field all vying for both the team and individual titles at the 2011 Hummingbird Intercollegiate. In addition to the host Catamounts, five other Southern Conference schools return to the southern mountains of Western North Carolina in Appalachian State, Elon, Furman, Samford and Wofford.
Defending team champion, Jacksonville, and three-time runner-up, Vanderbilt, headline the list of schools traveling to Sapphire for the tournament. Others include Colgate, Francis Marion, Gardner-Webb, Guilford, High Point, IPFW, Radford, Tennessee Tech and UAB to round out the competing teams.
"It is a privilege for our men's golf program to host a tournament at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley," said WCU head coach Carter Cheves. "The grounds crew always has the course in perfect condition. The membership comes out to volunteer and really supports the teams. It is a great venue for college golf and we are lucky to be able to call it home."
Ten of the teams are ranked inside the national top 200 including three inside the top 100 according to GolfStat rankings with one team - Guilford College - ranking as the No. 1 team in NCAA Division III. The Quakers have won two of their three fall tournaments and are led by junior Noah Ratner who has captured individual medalist honors three times and is averaging 69.75 in eight rounds. UAB enters the event ranked 19th with Vanderbilt (87th) and Furman (99th) representing the teams inside the national top 100.
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.
Last season, 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.
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 first-time since taking over the reins of the Raiders' men's golf program during the summer of 2010.
As it has the majority of the 2011 fall season, Western Carolina will start four underclassmen and one junior in its scoring five. Freshman J.T. Poston leads the team with a 72.83 scoring average, currently fifth in the SoCon. Sophomore Jack Walsh (74.33), who ranks second on the squad this season, led WCU to a 13th-place finish at the event a season ago, advancing from a tie for 14th on the second day to finish tied for sixth with a one-under, 141.
The squad's lone upperclassman, junior Trey White, looks to improve upon his average of 76.25 in his two previous appearances in the Hummingbird Intercollegiate. The Hickory, N.C., native recorded a one-under round of 70 as a true freshman back in 2009 at the course, and enters the final round of the fall averaging a career-low, 75.33, through six rounds this year.
Rounding out the Catamounts side will be sophomore Greg Bunner and a second freshman in Charlie Kilzer, who ranks third on the team in scoring this fall at an average of 75.00 per round. Bunner carded rounds of 73 and 75 a season ago to average 74.00 to place in a tie for 42nd overall.
Complete results and recaps will be made available online at www.CatamountSports.com, at the conclusion of each round.