June 29, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - A combined 10 tournaments spread equally over both the fall and spring semester including hosting the 14th-annual Great Smokies Intercollegiate highlights the 2012-13 Western Carolina schedule released today by third-year head coach Mallory Hetzel.
The season culminates with the annual Southern Conference Women's Golf Championship on the North Course at the Moss Creek Golf Club at Hilton Head Island, S.C., April 14-16, 2013.
"Once again, I am excited about our 2012-13 tournament schedule," said Hetzel. "With a more youthful squad this year, we are taking advantage of returning to a few events in which they found success a year ago. But, we are also taking the opportunity to compete in a few new events that will challenge our players as golfers while also building their confidence. Overall, I am happy with the schedule that is before us this year."
WCU opens its season in the second full week of September by traveling to the Golfweek Program Challenge in the first of three, first-time tournament trips for the golf program. The three-round event at the Caledonia Golf Club in Pawleys Island, S.C., is spread over three days and enables both the men's and women's programs to play two different courses at the complex for separate championships. An overall winner will be crowned with the best combined score between the men's and women's teams.
"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to begin our season by playing in the prestigious Golfweek Program Challenge. This unique event will be a lot of fun for our teams and give them a chance to play some tough competition right out of the gates," said Hetzel.
One week later, the Catamounts return to their home course at the Waynesville Inn - Golf Resort and Spa for the Great Smokies Intercollegiate, in Waynesville, N.C., Sept. 17-18. A combined 18 teams will vie for the tournament championship in a field that includes four returning team champions and four first-year squads competing.
WCU finished as the tournament runner-up a season ago with returning sophomore Sofie Kvarnstrom claiming individual medalist honors in her first intercollegiate event. WCU's second-place finish extended its streak of podium finishes in its home tournament to five which includes back-to-back team titles in 2008 and `09. All told, Western Carolina has claimed seven of the 13 all-time team championships while also having the individual medalist seven times in event history.
"We are excited to again host the Great Smokies Intercollegiate, an on-going tradition since 1999," said Hetzel. "We have assembled a good field with many teams making their first-ever appearance. Our own Sofie Kvarnstrom is the defending champion and I know she will be excited to try and defend her title."
The 2012 Great Smokies Intercollegiate is one of just three, 36-hole events on the team's slate and the only one in the fall portion of the schedule.
The fall calendar wraps up in October with a trio of events, two of which WCU played in last season. The Catamounts travel to the UNCG - Starmount Fall Classic at the Starmount Forest Country Club in Greensboro on Oct. 1-2 for a 54-hole tournament, followed a week later by a return to the Lady Pirate Intercollegiate, hosted by East Carolina at the Greenville Country Club. WCU finished 10th at the Starmount Fall Classic and 12th at ECU's tournament a season ago.
The fall portion of the schedule closes with the first-ever trip to the Wendy's Invitational, hosted by Charleston Southern University at the Coosaw Creek Country Club in North Charleston, S.C., Oct. 15-16.
Western Carolina's spring schedule opens in mid-March with back-to-back tournaments in the Sunshine State of Florida. The semester opens with a return to the Eagle Landing Invitational hosted by James Madison at the Eagle Landing Golf Club in Orange Park, Fla., March 8-10. WCU was 13th in the field a season ago. One week later, the Catamounts will play in the MSU Spring Ocala Invitational in Ocala, Fla., hosted by Morehead State.
Both of the spring-opening events are 54-hole events featuring 18 holes a day over three rounds.
"The trip to Ocala will be a great way to keep in touch with some of our supporters who live in the area and have become a big part of our program. We hope many of them will come on and see us play," Hetzel said.
The month of March concludes with a return to coastal South Carolina to compete in the Lowcountry Intercollegiate, hosted by SoCon-foe, Wofford. The Catamounts return to the tournament after a two-year hiatus after winning the first two team championships in event history as a co-host. WCU won the first event over Wofford in the spring of 2009 by six strokes before edging James Madison by two strokes a year later.
"Wofford's tournament at Moss Creek on the South Course will give our team a chance to see both a similar course and conditions to what we will face at the conference championship three weeks later at the same venue, but on the North Course," Hetzel added.
In the final tune-up before the conference finale, WCU travels to the Mimosa Hills Intercollegiate, hosted by Appalachian State at the Mimosa Hills Country Club in Morganton, N.C. Last year with the event counting five scores among six competing players, the Catamounts took top team honors with Kvarnstrom claiming her second individual medalist honors with consecutive rounds of one-over par, 73. WCU defeated runner-up, ASU, by 16 strokes.
Hetzel and the Catamounts have to replace two of the top three scorers from last year's line-up as seniors Blaire Minter - who ranked fifth on WCU's career scoring chart - and Rachel Nelson both graduated. Kvarnstrom paced the squad with a 76.11 stroke average a season ago, placing among the individual top 10 three times including a pair of individual championships.