Cullowhee, N.C. - A combined 15 teams and 84 total golfers converge on The Ridges Country Club in Hayesville, N.C., this weekend as Western Carolina women's golf hosts the second-annual Bill Berg Invitational. Vying for both team and individual titles, the 54-hole tournament includes two rounds on Monday and the final round Tuesday with shotgun starts for each.
For the tournament, the course at The Ridges will play at par-72, 6,057 yards. Practice rounds are scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 15, with the three-round event teeing off with a shotgun start on Monday and Tuesday beginning at 8:45 am. Live scoring of the event is available online through BirdieFire.com.
In addition to the host Catamounts, the 15-team field includes a pair of fellow Southern Conference members, Samford and Wofford. Rounding out the competition are Appalachian State, Eastern Kentucky, Gardner-Webb, Limestone, Longwood, Marshall, Morehead State, Presbyterian, Richmond, Tennessee Tech, and Winthrop.
Defending event champion, Eastern Kentucky, and reigning individual medalist, EKU's Elsa Moberly, headline the returning field in its second season. The Colonels cruised to the team championship over runner-up -- and tournament host -- Western Carolina. James Madison finished third, with returning competitors Appalachian State and Marshall rounding out the top five. Moberly, who enters this weekend ranked 37th in the latest GolfStat Cup standings, carded a three-round score of 1-over par, 217, to claim the first tournament trophy last fall.
"We are so very excited to again host the Bill Berg Invitational at The Ridges Country Club," said Western Carolina second-year head coach Sara Anne McGetrick. "Starting with our tournament director, Greg Parsons, to the tournament namesake, Bill Berg, and through the entire staff at The Ridges, we've been very fortunate to again have such a great group of people working on the preparations for the event. The membership has been tremendous to work with from event volunteers to host families."
The championship 18-hole, Willard Byrd Golf Course that was opened in 1992 is the focal point of a spectacular club that has been billed as a "hidden gem" nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, close to the Georgia border. The Ridges Country Club has been recognized by Golf Advisor as a top 20 semi-private golf course in the United States, as well as a top 10 golf course in the state of North Carolina.
"The course is in unbelievable condition entering the weekend -- the best I think I've ever seen it in," said McGetrick of The Ridges. "We have another strong field of teams and players coming to Hayesville to compete in the event, and we look forward to a competitive, fun event this weekend."
After a one-year hiatus, WCU returned to hosting an intercollegiate tournament last fall, doing so with the inaugural Bill Berg Invitational. It was the first-time the program has hosted an event at The Ridges Country Club.
WCU has a proud tradition of hosting women's golf tournaments dating back to 1999 with the Great Smokies Intercollegiate. The program hosted the event for 16 years at the Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort & Spa in Waynesville, N.C., through the 2014 season. The Catamounts had tremendous success, winning nine team titles over the 16-year run as a part of 12 first-or-second place team finishes. Also, WCU had at least a share of the individual medalist honors a combined 10 times with three former golfers -- Taylor Allison (3 -- 2012, 2013, 2014), Ashley Hovda (2 -- 2004, 2005), and Brandy Andersen (2 -- 2002, 2003) -- claiming first place multiple times.
Western Carolina looks towards familiar surroundings and its home tournament to try and build confidence as the conclusion of the fall season rapidly approaches. The Catamounts will be led by defending individual runner-up, senior Amanda Floberg, who posted a 3-over par, 219, last year that included the lowest tournament individual round of 3-under par, 69, in the third round. She is joined by classmate Alyssa Morahan, the only two players in WCU's scoring five that competed in the event a year ago.
Those two upperclassmen will be joined by seasonal leading scorer, freshman Hazel Martin, with the final two scoring spots being decided in qualifying on Friday afternoon. Junior transfer Shannon Heerey, sophomore Brianna Plummer, and freshmen Harper Gilreath, Maya White, and Cameron Wood vying for the final two spots while the remainder will compete unattached as individuals.
Complete results and recap of the tournament will be available following the conclusion of play each day online at www.CatamountSports.com and through WCU's social media outlets including Twitter (@Catamounts). Again, live scoring for each round is available through BirdieFire.com.