JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the second consecutive season and third time in four years, the No. 22 Carson-Newman men's golf team will be competing in the NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships South/Southeast Regional, which will begin on Monday at the The Shoals Golf Club in Muscle Shoals, Ala.
This appearance comes in the wake of the Eagles capturing the program's third South Atlantic Conference Championship in late April. For their triumph, C-N was granted an automatic bid to the regional tournament.
Coach Randy Wylie will send out the same group that captured the top spot at the SAC Championships, led by the conference's Freshman of the Year, Tom Forster (Oundle, England). Last time out, the All-SAC first-team selection shared fifth place with, among others, teammates Dalton Reese (Warrenton, Ga.) and Anthony Marcinelli (Knoxville, Tenn.). For Marcinelli, it was the first top-10 finish of his career, while Reese, a member of the All-SAC second-team, collected his eighth. Jake Headrick (Maryville, Tenn.) was also on the league's second-team and remains the only Eagle to win an event during the 2016-17 campaign, capturing the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate in March. Rounding out the roster is Brady Childers (Granite Falls, N.C.), another of the squad's freshman, who hit a clutch birdie putt during C-N's playoff with Coker at the SAC tournament, helping his team outlast the Cobras.
As a team, the Eagles have averaged 293.8 strokes per 18 holes, third best in their conference. They also possess an adjusted scoring average of 73.75, tied with Chico State for 21st in Division II, according to Golfstat. Their best showing came during their win at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, where C-N carded a second round 274, which still stands as the lowest round by a SAC team this season.
Coach Wylie and his student-athletes will have to deal with possibly the toughest field they've encountered all year. The top nine teams in the country will all be present in Muscle Shoals, led by No. 1 West Florida. Of the 20 participating schools, 17 of them, including the Eagles, were ranked in the most recent Golf Coaches Association of America poll. The only exceptions are Georgia College, Coker and Albany State.
The regional competition will take place over three days and each student-athlete will play 54 holes. A minimum of three teams from all four regional competitions will advance to the finals on May 22nd – 26th at Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Fla. The remaining eight spots will be handed out basis on the regions represented in the prior year's medal-match portion of the championships.
The Shoals Golf Club, which sits between the Wheeler and Wilson dams on the Tennessee River, is home to a pair of 18-hole, championship courses. These 20 teams will have to contend with the club's links style Fighting Joe course, which was the first trail to break 8,000 yards. This enormous patch of green was named one of the top new courses in the country by Travel and Leisure Golf when it first opened in 2004.
This is the second time Carson-Newman has visited this golf club. The Division II Regional Preview in late March also brought them to Muscle Shoals. The team placed fourth in that event with Forster finishing eighth and Reece and Headrick tying for 10th.
Following each day of play in Alabama, visit cneagles.com for a recap and results.