VIDEO: Tom Forster Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After an 11-day respite, No. 16/21 Carson-Newman gears up for a short trip west on I-40 to the Sevierville Golf Club for its fifth-consecutive appearance in the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate from Sunday until Tuesday.
The event hosted by Division-1 squad Tennessee Tech will have C-N playing on the River Course of one of its home turfs through the three days of competition. The Eagles have seen three-straight top-five finishes in the tournament with the last two being a victory in 2017 with a 274 followed by a second-place finish a season ago holding a 275.
In that same two-year span, the top medalist has been clad in Orange and Blue. Jake Headrick (Maryville, Tenn.) was the victor in 2017 with an 11-under total of 205. Tom Forster (Northamptonshire, England) took the title last year with the third-lowest total score in South Atlantic Conference history with a 13-under 203. That was his first career tournament win and was his career-best 54-hole score.
"We feel confident going into Sevierville and it's nice to be playing against Division-I teams here because everyone feels they can play great out there," Forster said. "That's what helps us play so good when we do play there, but it is important for us to play good there just to feel like we should be playing good there. All the boys know how to play the course and the boys play the course well, so it's important for us."
This year, Forster heads into the Intercollegiate with three tournament victories under his belt, the most recent one being at the Southern Tide Classic just over a week and a half ago. There he bested his three-round lowest score with a 202 after rounds of 67-68-67. He now sits tied for second on the SAC's low 54 holes list with C-N alum Andrew Hall who shot 202 twice during the fall of 2015. Thanks to his finish, Carson-Newman now holds four of the top-five spots in the statistical category.
"(In the past year,) I've kind of realized how much I need to work on my game to get to the next level," Forster said. "I've just been practicing a ridiculous amount more this year and the end of my sophomore year than I did sort of before that because I needed to get that good to feel like I was improving."
Forster's 12-under finish at the Southern Tide Classic improved his scoring average on the season to 70.8 through 17 rounds of play, 0.7 of a stroke lower than where he was heading into the event. The 10th-ranked player among all of D-II according to Golfstat will lead the Eagles into battle for the sixth time this season, fourth-consecutive on the year.
Headrick also makes his return, this time as the No. 2 seed. He tied for 38th at the Southern Tide with a nine-over 223. He holds a 74.1 scoring average through six events on the year.
Jake Mynatt (Knoxville, Tenn.) moves into the No. 3 spot this week after a three-over showing in the last tournament. The freshman makes his BNI debut with the third-best scoring average of the team at 74.4, also starting in every event the Eagles have played in this season.
At the fourth-seed for the Eagles is Jackson Tyler (Wilmington, N.C.), starting in his sixth-straight event on the season. Out of those starts, this will be the sophomore's third showing at the fourth spot. This season, he holds a 75.0 stroke average through 17 rounds of play.
Last year was Tyler's debut at the BNI, the only event in which he competed as an individual. There he tied for 37th with a six-over score of 222.
Rounding out the list for Wylie's group is Fintan McKenna (Aberdeen, Scotland). This is just the second time the junior has played in the starting lineup, the last time being the season-opening Coker Fall Challenge where he shot 14-over with a 154 that tied him for 59th in the field. His two other showing this season have been as an individual, the last one being at the Spring Kickoff Intercollegiate where he shot 19-over to hold down 53rd.
This trip to the Intercollegiate will mark the first of his career.
C-N is just one of two Division-II teams in the 15-team field, the other being Lee. Along with Tennessee Tech, 11 other D-I teams will be there including Tennessee State, Wright State, Butler and University of Tennessee Martin.
Eastern Kentucky returns to the field as the reigning champion with an 850 finish at 14-under.
The Intercollegiate tees off Sunday at noon with a shotgun start. A full recap with results will make its way to cneagles.com following the conclusion of each round.