#16 Eagles prepare for season opener at the Coker Fall Challenge

#16 Eagles prepare for season opener at the Coker Fall Challenge

VIDEO: Randy Wylie Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The reigning South Atlantic Conference Champions are back in action as the No. 16 Carson-Newman men's golf team opens up its season this week with a trip to Camden S.C. to take part in the Coker Fall Challenge on Monday and Tuesday.

This opening event will not only serve as a SAC preview, allowing the Eagles to test themselves against familiar competition, but it is also being played at the same venue where the SAC Championship will happen later in the spring.

"It's great fun, actually, to start with a conference preview event," head coach Randy Wylie said. "We're looking forward to playing the golf course over there; I've personally played it and it's terrific. It's going to be fun for the guys to get to play a great Donald Ross course.

"You know, it's a long way from the conference tournament, I'm not going to overreact one way or another, but we're just looking forward to getting the season started. We're kind of tired of butting heads against each other."

Junior Tom Forster (Oundle, England) will lead the group for C-N in this tournament at the No. 1 spot with Jake Headrick (Maryville, Tenn.) at the second spot.

The All-SAC first and second team duo from a year ago spent most of last season moving between the top two positions for Wylie's crew. They combined for 15 finishes in the top-20 of events with 10 in the top-10 and three victories including a SAC Tournament win for Forster.

Another veteran returner will be junior Fintan McKenna (Aberdeen, Scotland) at the No. 4 slot for C-N. This will mark his first trip as a part of the travel team since the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate in 2017 as a freshman.

The fifth spot on the team will be held down by Alex Hutson (Newport Tenn.). The senior is coming off of a 2017-18 campaign that saw him travel to nine events, one of those serving as an individual. He was a top-20 golfer in three-straight events. His best showing came at the Tennessee River Rumble where he finished in a tie for 11th with a 151 total.

"All four of those guys are upperclassmen. They've worked really hard and given a lot to the program," Wylie said. "It's great to see them have an opportunity to show what they can do on a great course, and hopefully we'll learn a lot about the course so that we can defend again in the conference championship in April."

Two newcomers to the team will be making their Carson-Newman debuts at Camden with Jake Mynatt (Knoxville, Tenn.) taking the No. 3 spot in the group and Will Collins (Knoxville, Tenn.) serving as an individual.

"We had a true qualifier where they had an opportunity to go out and grab a spot right from the start, and they both played well, played solid," Wylie mentioned. "Jake played good the whole qualifier and Will had a pretty inspired last round where he started off with a double bogey and ended up shooting a 71, which was one of the low rounds of the day that day, so that was a really gritty performance on his part."

Conference competition out the gate will be stiff for the Eagles who will be expecting to start off strong. They are one of just three teams in the SAC who landed on the Golf Coaches Association of America's preseason poll. The other two included are No. 10 Lincoln Memorial and No. 12 Newberry.

Carson-Newman will be seeing LMU at the Coker Fall Challenge along with Queens and Lenoir-Rhyne. Some of the teams from outside of the SAC who will appear in the event are Limestone, North Georgia, Young Harris and North Greenville.

The event will take place at the Camden Country Club which features a Donald Ross course that spans 6,350 yards with a par of 70.

The 54-hole event will tee-off Monday morning. A full recap with results will be posted on cneagles.com at the conclusion of each day.