#20 C-N prepares to defend title at SAC Championship

#20 C-N prepares to defend title at SAC Championship

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Fresh off of a win at the Tennessee River Rumble to close out the regular season, No. 20 Carson-Newman, the reigning South Atlantic Conference champions, looks to keep momentum and confidence on its side heading to the Cobbs Glen Country Club in Anderson, S.C. for the three day event hosted by Anderson University from Sunday to Tuesday.

This season, Carson-Newman has garnered seven top-five finishes in eight of the events the team took part in, all coming in consecutive finishes.

"It was a pretty good regular season," head coach Randy Wylie said. "Obviously right here at the end we've played our best which is very encouraging. We're just pleased to go into conference on a high note after playing well last week in Sevierville at the Bobby Nichols and then coming back in tremendous fashion to win this week was great."

Leading the Eagles into the championship is the duo of players who were named the overall champions in a pair of events during the campaign, taking part in all 23 rounds that the Eagles played. All-SAC Second-Team honoree Jake Headrick (Maryville, Tenn.) won his second career event at the McDonough Cup in October while Tom Forster (Oundle, England), named to the All-SAC First-Team list, was the top performer at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate, an event filled with Division I competition.

The duo has combined for 12 top-20 finishes this season, four of those coming in events where they finished in the top-three.

Headrick comes into the championship after tying for second at the Tennessee River Rumble with a 148 two-round total. His finish marked his third top-three placing of the season. The junior concluded the regular season with a 72.6 shot average.

As for Forster, his average score through the regular season was slightly better than Headrick's, holding a team-leading 72.1 average heading into the conference title run.

Junior Anthony Marcinelli (Knoxville, Tenn.) makes his returns to the championship field after pushing the Eagles to the win last season with a chip-in on the fourth playoff hole to break out of a tie with Coker in the sudden death playoff. Participating in all but one of the team's events this season, Marcinelli landed in the top-20 thrice, his highest placing coming at the Panther Invitation where he finished in a tie for 14th with a 216 three-round total.

After being called on for much of the second-half of the season, Alex Hutson (Newport, Tenn.) travels to the Palmetto State with C-N for his sixth-straight event with the main travel team. The junior has garnered a 74.6 average through 19 holes of play. This includes his third-place showing at the Walters State Fall Classic that the B-team took part in back in mid-October.

Rounding out the lineup for the Eagles is Jackson Tyler (Wilmington, N.C.). The freshman has been called upon in every event C-N has played in the season, serving as a member of the top-team for eight of those tournaments. He comes into the championship following his best finish of the season with an 11th-place finish at the Tennessee River Rumble where he carded a 151 total, seven-shots above par.

Two other ranked teams join Carson-Newman in the field. Ranked eighth by Golfstat and tied for fourth by the Bushnell Golfweek Division II Coaches Poll, Newberry has notched five event wins this season including back-to-back wins to start the 2017-18 campaign. Lincoln Memorial sits at 16th in the national rankings from Golfstat, 17th by the GCAA. The Railsplitters have won two events this season and were second to the Eagles at the Tennessee River Rumble.

The Cobbs Glen Country Club houses a course that spans 7,002 yards with a 72 par. This trip marks the teams' first time playing this specific course.

"It will be tough; we don't know the golf course and we've got a top-five team in the country in our conference," Wylie mentioned. "So, we're going to have to play really well to defend, but we're a pretty confident team right now."

The three-day, 54-hole tournament begins on Sunday morning with an 8:30 a.m. tee-time. Fans are encouraged to follow along with live scoring through Birdiefire.

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