VIDEO: Randy Wylie Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Just a few days following a 5th-place finish at the Saint Leo Invitational, the Carson-Newman men's golf team, ranked 20th in the nation by Golfstat, turns its attention to a third-straight trip to the Sunshine State this spring, this time participating in the Panther Invitational from Sunday until Tuesday at the Duran Golf Club in Melbourne, Fla.
Wylie's team enters the tournament with four-consecutive top-five finishes to its name. Early this week, the Eagles tied their second-lowest round of golf with a 280 team total in the first round, a round that saw the team go neck-and-neck with third-ranked Nova Southeastern.
Despite a downturn in the second and third rounds, C-N was still able to be the top par-shooting team as it recorded even par on 180 holes. The team was also the second-best par 3 team with a 3.15 average.
"I think we got a little happy after the first round and were kind of patting ourselves on the back a little bit," head coach Randy Wylie said. "You've just got to kind of keep grinding and we just didn't hold up to the standard that we need to compete with the very best teams.
"We showed we have the ability, the brilliance to play with them but the consistency, we still have to keep working and our expectation, even if we've played great in a round, our expectation for the next round is to maintain and continue what we're doing."
This is Carson-Newman's second consecutive showing in the event hosted by Florida Tech. Last season, the Eagles garnered a sixth-place finish in 2017 with a +43 total of 907. Tom Forster (Oundle, England) and Jake Headrick (Maryville, Tenn.) led the Eagles with a tie at 12th on the leaderboard by the end of the event, both shooting eight-over through three rounds for a 224 total score.
The Eagles take all five starts from this past weekend to Melbourne. Headrick, Forster and Anthony Marcinelli (Knoxville, Tenn.) make their returns to the field, expecting to use their leadership to guide event newcomers Jackson Tyler (Wilmington, N.C.), Alex Hutson (Newport, Tenn.) and Grant Bodie (Knoxville, Tenn.), participating as an individual.
This year's 10-team field includes three other Golfstat nationally ranked teams – No. 11 Barry, No. 5 Florida Tech and No. 2 Florida Southern. Of the ranked teams, only one has garnered event wins this season, that being Florida Southern with two victories.
"The more tough competition we can see and play in tough conditions, the better it should make us by the end of the year," Wylie mentioned. "We're just trying to keep building. We've got to be just a little bit more consistent to take a fifth or sixth place finish and turn it into a win or second-place finish, and we have good enough players and good enough rounds, we're just not doing it one through five throughout the whole event."
In 2017, Florida Southern was the top overall team in the field, shooting an 882 total score at +18. Florida Tech tied for second with Lynn at 21-over.
Florida Southern's John Vanderlann was the best overall player in the tournament with a four-under total of 212. Three strokes behind him was Barry's Niclas Weiland, taking a second place finish while Lynn's Mateo Gomez was third with a +1 score of 217.
The event will be played at the Duran Golf Club, which holds a course spanning 7,151 yards with a par of 72.
The Panther Invitational begins on Sunday with a round of 18 that will tee-off at 8 a.m. All three days of the 54-hole tournament will be followed by a recap on CNeagles.com. Live scoring of each round will be available through Golfstat.