Sept. 14, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Twelve teams, including three previous team champions will square, off vying for both team and individual titles as Western Carolina and the Catamount women's golf team play host to the 15th-annual Great Smokies Intercollegiate Sept. 15-17. All told, 67 women's golfers are slated to vie for the tournament championship.
The two-round, Monday and Tuesday event which began back in 1999 will again be held at the par 72, 5,932-yard Waynesville Inn - Golf Resort in Spa in Waynesville, N.C.
The 2013 Great Smokies Intercollegiate consists of three days of golf beginning on Sunday, Sept. 16 with practice rounds that start at 11:30 am by set team tee times. The 36-hole tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 9:00 am on Monday, Sept. 16, with the final round also teeing off with a shotgun start at 9:00 am on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
"Hosting the Great Smokies Intercollegiate for a 15th-straight year as a program is a milestone for WCU women's golf. This is an on-going tradition which dates back to 1999 - and is one many teams circle on their calendars," said WCU head coach Mallory Hetzel, who guided the Catamounts to the program's 10th top-two finish a season ago. "This year's 12-team field will make for great competition both for the individual and team championship. I know Taylor (Allison) is anxious to defend her title from a season ago."
The Waynesville Inn - Golf Resort and Spa was established in 1926, nestled on the hills and valleys of Western North Carolina. The 27-hole course sits on a former dairy farm and features rolling fairways ending in bent grass greens. The course was designed by renowned golf course designer, Donald Ross, who also designed Pinehurst #2 which hosted the 2005 U.S. Open. Golf Digest gave the Waynesville Inn - Golf Resort and Spa a four-star rating.
Teams will once again play the Carolina and Blue Ridge courses with the yardages playing out the same as a year ago. The Carolina course will play 2,979 yards while Blue Ridge, which features three par-3 and three par 5 holes, measures out to 2,953 yards to make up the 5,932-yard course.
"The staff at the Waynesville Inn - Golf Resort and Spa do an amazing job in every facet of helping us host this first-class event. From the condition of the course, to the rooms and meals all provided there on-site, the Great Smokies Intercollegiate continues to rank among the top women's tournaments and experiences. You can't beat the view from the course this time of year," added Hetzel.
Western Carolina has won seven of the 14 previous team titles all-time, including two-straight after tying Southern Conference foe, Elon, in the rain-shortened four years ago, and edging conference counterpart, Wofford, by five strokes in 2010. All told, WCU has won seven of the last 11 tournament team titles while also having claimed individual medalist honors seven times.
In addition to WCU, two other past tournament champions are in this year's field including defending champion, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech, who won in 1999 and 2000 respectively. Those three will be joined by nine other schools making return trips to the mountains of Western North Carolina in this year's field.
Looking back at the 2012 Great Smokies Intercollegiate, seven of the top 10 teams from the final finishing order return to the field in 2012 - WCU, EKU, Presbyterian, Samford, Tennessee Tech, UAB and Western Kentucky.
Last season, led by freshman individual medalist Taylor Allison, WCU finished in the runner-up spot as the 36-hole event was condense to one day of competition due to inclement weather. It was the 10th time in the 14 previous events that WCU had placed among the top two finishers, and the second-straight season a Catamount rookie had secured medalist honors with Allison joining 2011 champion, Sofie Kvarnstrom.
Alison is vying to join two of her predecessors in Ashley Hovda (2004, 2005) and Brandy Andersen (2002, 2003) as only two golfers have ever won multiple Great Smokies Intercollegiate individual championships.
Tournament practice rounds begin at 11:30 am on Sunday, with both the first and second rounds on Monday and Tuesday mornings, respectively, teeing off at 9:00 am. Admission is free and the tournament is open to the public.
Full recaps and results will be made available online at www.CatamountSports.com at the conclusion of both rounds Monday and Tuesday.
ADDITIONAL GREAT SMOKIES INTERCOLLEGIATE NOTES:
* A total of 65 different teams have participated in the event all-time ... the 2013 tournament features 12 teams from six different states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee);
* Three of the seven all-time tournament team champions will be in competition: Eastern Kentucky (2011), Tennessee Tech (1999, 2000) and Western Carolina (2002, `03, `04, `05, `06, `08, `09);
* Defending individual co-medalist - Western Carolina's Taylor Allison - returns to the field in 2013 ... She is the only previous GSI winner in the 66 golfer field;
* The top two best team tournaments have been turned in the past two seasons ... Morehead State posted a tournament record score of 575 in last fall's event ... In 2011, Eastern Kentucky matched the previous team 36-hole record of 576 originally set by WCU in 2005;
* Western Carolina has won at least a share of seven of the 14 team titles all-time at the Great Smokies Intercollegiate ... the Catamounts have also had the individual medalist in seven of the past 10 seasons, with co-medalists at the rain-shortened 2009 and 2012 events.