VIDEO: Jake Headrick Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – On the heels of its fifth-consecutive top-five finish, No. 25 Carson-Newman prepares to defend its 2017 title at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, hosted by Tennessee Tech, just 25 miles away at the Sevierville Golf Club from March 18-20.
Last year, the Eagles were the top team through all three days of competition, carding a 17-under total score of 847. They were the only team in the nine-team field to finish under par in the event. The next closest team was Lincoln Memorial at eight-over par. The rest of the teams were Division I competition.
"It's interesting because I tell them, 'Don't feel like because you won last year, it's going to be easy. Be prepared for the adversity'" head coach Randy Wylie said. "It's a big challenge because it's a little bit different for us. We haven't had this situation with this team where they had a blowout victory in a tournament that we're going back to defend."
Jake Headrick (Maryville, Tenn.) returns to the field this season as the defending champion in the event. He was 11-under through three rounds, but his third round was the highlight for the then-sophomore. He carded a 66 in the final round, snagging the victory on a birdie putt on his final hole. He concluded the event with a 205 total score.
His third round score of 66 was his lowest round in that season.
"Last year I went in, you know, Division I tournament, just looking to play well and, come last round, I got hot and ended up winning it," the junior said. "You know, going back there this year for another try, I'm pretty excited."
Also scoring a 66 in the tournament was teammate Tom Forster (Oundle, England) but that came in the second round. He finished at second in the field just two strokes behind Headrick.
This year, Forster serves as the top-seeded team member in the event for Carson-Newman after finishing at 10th-place in the Panther Invitational over a week and a half ago. Headrick will move into the second spot for C-N after a less than ideal 27th-place showing.
Anthony Marcinelli (Knoxville, Tenn.) also makes a return to the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, sitting at the fourth spot on the team where he sat a year ago. He notched a nine-over total of 225 in Melbourne, Fla., his third-lowest score of the season.
The junior looks to improve on his 44th-place finish from a season ago, shooting 15-over in the event.
The other returner to the field for the Eagles is Will Hurt (Powell, Tenn.), serving as the fifth-seeded man on the travel team. This marks his first event as a non-individual this season and in the event. As an individual participant in 2017, he carded a 228 total for a 32nd-place finish.
The junior's last trip on the links was in the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate where he finished with a +9 score of 222 to sit in a tie at 43rd on the leaderboard. His second round of 71 marked his lowest round of the season.
Alex Hutson (Newport, Tenn.) makes his debut in the event at the No. 3 spot for C-N, taking part in his fourth-consecutive tournament with the travel squad. He enters the Intercollegiate after closing out the Panther Invitational tied at third for the best Par 3 shooter with an even 3.00 score on such holes. On the season, he is averaging a three-over score of 74.8.
Jackson Tyler (Wilmington, N.C.) makes the trip up I-40, this time as an individual for the Eagles. This comes after he closed the Panther Invitational with the team's biggest leap up the leaderboard through the last round of action at 16 spots. He concluded with a +19 total of 235. His final round of 72 was his best final round score of the season.
This season, the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate field will be comprised of 14 teams. 10 of those schools are from Division I institutions including Alcorn State, Austin Peay, Belmont, Detroit, Eastern Kentucky, Marshall, Tennessee State, host team Tennessee Tech, UT Martin and Wright State. No. 15 Lincoln Memorial is also taking part in the event.
The event will take place on the River Course at the Sevierville Golf Club, a course that holds a par of 72 over nearly 7,000 yards of play.
"Going into our home course, everyone will have a little confidence, know what they're doing out there, so hopefully we can have another year like last year," Headrick mentioned.
The three-day 52-hole event kicks off Sunday morning with a 10 a.m. shotgun start on the River Course at the Sevierville Golf Club.