Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina head men's golf coach Bryant Odom announced the signing of three student-athletes for the 2015-16 season. Bradley Durand (Oak Ridge, Tenn./Oak Ridge HS), Mark David Johnson (St. Simons Island, Ga./Glynn Academy), and Lawson King (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville HS) have each signed National Letters of Intent with WCU to join the Catamount men's golf team next fall.
"All three of these signees will have an immediate impact on the program at Western Carolina, both on and off the golf course," said Odom. "I am proud to have them in the fall of 2015 and look forward to a great experience in the 2015-16 season."
Last season as a junior, Durand carded a round of even-par 72 to qualify for the TSSA State Golf Tournament - a tournament in which he advanced to as a sophomore in 2012 after winning a playoff in two holes in the Region 2-AAA tournament. In the summer of 2013, Durand recorded a pair of first-place finishes at both the Centennial Golf Course and TaylorMade Championship at the Blackthorn Club, while also tallying a runner-up finish at the Ruggles Ferry Golf Club and a ninth-place showing at the TaylorMade Championship at the Oak Ridge Country Club.
Additional highlights of his junior golf career include a 15th-place tie at the College Prep Series at Furman, and an individual medalist honor the Nashville Junior Shootout at the Greystone Golf Club with rounds of two-under par, 70, and three-over par, 75 - both coming during the summer of 2014 on the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour.
"A player that has been mostly under the radar, Bradley is a big strong player who is very golf driven with loads of talent. He has shown the ability to shoot some very low numbers in competition," said Odom of Durand.
Bradley's older brother, Taylor, is on the Catamount baseball team, and has also made one round appearance on the men's golf squad - shooting 69 in the only contested round of the Hummingbird Intercollegiate held at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley.
Johnson was ranked 374th among high school golfers by GolfWeek's Brentley Romine's Class of 2015. According to available research, he was the third-highest ranked golfer to sign with a Southern Conference school during the early signing period. Johnson was an all-state performer last season at Glynn Academy after shooting a 70 and finished third at the Class AAAAA state tournament in May on Jekyll Island.
Johnson has been a part of the Southeaster Junior Golf Tour (SJGT) since 2010, recording nine, top-10 finishes. His best showing was a runner-up finish in the Brunswick Junior Classic in July of 2013, posting consecutive rounds of 74 for a two-day total of 148. In October of 2014, Johnson carded his lowest round on the tour with a first-round 68, finishing third overall at the SJGT UGA AutoTrader.com Invitational. It was his third-straight, top five finish on the tour - and his fifth top 10 in the past six tour events.
Back during the summer of 2014, Johnson finished fifth with a three-round score of 212 (68-71-73) at the Georgia Junior Championship held at the par-72, 6,802-yard Brunswick Country Club, which automatically qualified him for the 39th annual Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match. In the two-state match-play event - which finished in an 8-8 tie - Johnson won his second head-to-head match-up, 6 and 5, to earn points for the Peach State after dropping his opening match by the same count.
"Mark David is a very consistent young golfer coming from a golf haven in St. Simons Island, Ga., where many successful PGA pros call home," said Odom. "Mark David is another big, strong player that hits the ball a long way and has a great demeanor on and off the golf course."
Like his fellow Georgian future teammate Johnson, King also played on the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour, doing so since 2011. King has 10, top 10 finishes with three top five showings including a pair of runner-up finishes at both the Brunswick Junior Classic in 2012 and the Georgia Club Junior Classic in 2014. He has carded his best round of 68 twice on the tour.
King - who was a high school teammate of current Catamount, Jackson Bishop - is part of a rich Gainesville High boy's golf tradition that includes three-straight Hall County Championships, three-consecutive region titles, three-consecutive appearances in the state championship and back-to-back state titles. King was a part of the 2013 Class AAAAA Boy's Golf Championship squad, leading the way with a round of 70, earning first team GHSGCA All-State plaudits. In 2012, King was a second-team All-State selection, and has twice earned Gainesville Times All-Area recognition - second team in 2012 and first team in 2013.
"Lawson's high school program has been consistently ranked at the top in the state of Georgia. The program at Gainesville High School is run much like a college program, and has produced several state championships and numerous NCAA Division I golfers. Lawson is another young man who hits the ball a long way and has shot some low numbers when it counts," said Odom.
Western Carolina's men's golf team returns to action in the spring semester, beginning Feb. 23-23 at the Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate, hosted by Francis Marion at the Wexford Plantation in Hilton Head Island, S.C.