Men's golf heads to Southern Conference Championship
UNCG at the Southern Conference Championship, April 17-19, Country Club of South Carolina, Florence, S.C.
By Rob Daniels
UNCG will make its 14th appearance in the Southern Conference tournament and will seek its first title one year after one of its best performances in the tourney. The three-day tournament begins Sunday at the Country Club of South Carolina in Florence, S.C.
In relation to par, the Spartans' 3-over-par 867 in 2010 was 20 strokes better than its previous low, achieved in 2007, 2002 and 2001. In terms of standing, UNCG's strongest showing came when it tied for second in 2004.
THE 2011 TOURNAMENT: This year's version of the event will be the 75th Southern Conference championship. The tournament predates the Masters, which just concluded its 75th installment, by a year. (The SoCon tournament began in 1933 and took four years off for World War II. The Masters started in 1934 and had a three-war hiatus for the war.)
NICE TO MEET YOU: The Spartans will be facing seven of their 10 SoCon brethren for the first time in 2010-11 when they tee off in the league tournament. They're 3-0 in their limited head-to-head meetings with the rest of the conference, having defeated the College of Charleston and Georgia Southern at the Gary Koch Invitational in October and Davidson in last week's Irish Creek Invitational.
NUMBERS GAME: Among Southern Conference teams, only No. 33 Chattanooga is rated higher than No. 85 UNCG in the latest national rankings at golfstat.com.
THE SHORT OF IT: UNCG has placed in the nation's top 20 in short-game statistics six times in coach Terrance Stewart's tenure, which is now in its 10th season. Those rankings represent an amalgamation of several elements of play in and around the green, including sand-save success rate, putts per round and others.
MAJOR VENUES: Three times in 2010-11, the Spartans have played at a complex that has hosted PGA Tour or major championships in the past decade. UNCG's own Bridgestone event, a fall tournament, is set at Forest Oaks Country Club, the home of Greensboro's PGA Tour event from 1977-2007. Last month, the Spartans played Pinehurst No. 6, part of the golf metropolis that counts Pinehurst No. 2 as its most celebrated facility. That course hosted the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005 and will do so again in 2014. Shortly thereafter, they finished fourth in a 24-team field on the Woods Course at Kingsmill, the development best known for the River Course, which served as home for a PGA Tour event from 1981-2002. That tourney, the C&F Bank Intercollegiate, was hosted by The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
NEW No. 1: Less than a month after taking to Pinehurst No. 6 as the Spartans' No. 5 player, junior Colin Chapman moved to the top of the team ladder. His fifth-place performance in the BancorpSouth tournament in Madison, Miss., represents the second-highest standing by a Spartan in any event in 2010-11; it is eclipsed only by Robert Hoadley's second-place effort at the VCU Shootout in the fall. Chapman, who transferred to UNCG from Oglethorpe (Ga.) College after his first year of school, put together consecutive under-par rounds for the first time in his two-year Spartan career when he shot a 71 and a 70 in Mississippi.
COMEBACK KID: Kyle Sonday, who redshirted in 2009-10 and didn't make his first appearance this academic year until the final event of the fall, has finished in the top 20 on three of his past four events. He has shot exactly 4-over-par in all four. In last week's Irish Creek Collegiate, he became the sixth UNCG player to break 70 when he delivered a 2-under-par 69 in the second round. The score was the second-lowest by a Spartan this spring and the lowest of Sonday's three-year college career.
DEPTH: Four UNCG players have broken par in consecutive rounds of the same tournament in 2010-11. They are Robert Hoadley, who did it in all three rounds at VCU; Colin Chapman (both rounds at the BancorpSouth); Will Almand (second and third at the UNCG Bridgestone); and Andy Knox (first two at the UNCG Bridgestone).
DEEP DEPTH: Six Spartans have shot in the 60s in a round in 2010-11: Robert Hoadley (five times); Andy Knox (three); Justin Clement (three); Will Almand (one) and Kyle Sonday (one).
ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER: Sophomore Robert Hoadley led UNCG in six of its first eight tournaments in 2010-11 and finished among the top 20 individuals in five of those events. Hoadley's best effort this spring is a final-round 67 in the Pinehurst Intercollegiate. That score tied his career low and helped move the Spartans up two spots in the team standings from seventh to their final placement of fifth.
HOADLEY A SULLIVAN SEMIFINALIST: UNCG sophomore Robert Hoadley, an All-Southern Conference player as a freshman, was one of 12 semifinalists named in February for the prestigious Sullivan Award, commonly known as the Oscar of amateur athletics. The Amateur Athletics Union presents the prize to the person who best embodies the spirit of healthy competition, citizenship and other traits. Hoadley was nominated by the chief administrative officer of AAU golf events for his combination of achievement on the course, in the community and in the classroom, where he maintains Dean's List membership in the university's Bryan School of Business and Economics. Hoadley did not make the cut to finalist stage, but he did finish sixth out of 12 in online voting administered by USA Today. The AAU does not disclose the extent of the popular vote's role in the process. The ballot included Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn; basketball players Maya Moore of Connecticut and Jimmer Fredette of BYU; and Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek, the eventual winner. Lysacek also has UNCG ties. One of his cousins, Ari Lysacek, is a member of the Spartan volleyball team.
ALUMNI UPDATE: Former UNCG golfers Will Bowman and Ryan Heisey helped the amateur team split the 17th Tar Heel Cup matches with a group of PGA of America teaching professions two weeks ago.
The amateurs, who have won only the Cup only twice, earned a draw for the second straight year in the two-day event at the par-71, 6,900-yard Dormie Club in West End, N.C.
With his team down 2.5 points with three matches pending, Bowman began a late surge by winning the 18th hole of his singles contest against Corey Schneider, a result that halved the contest. Earlier, Bowman and Heisey had halved their four-ball match with Paul Dickens and Mike Cato.
Bowman enjoyed an excellent spring in his senior season in 2010, posting a career-low 66 in one round and qualifying for the U.S. Amateur in a subsequent competition as an individual.
Heisey, another 2010 graduate, won the 50th North Carolina Amateur last June, breaking the event's 72-hole record in the process.
CONSISTENCY: UNCG has been among the top five SoCon teams in the final Sagarin ratings in each of the past five years. Only Chattanooga has equaled that feat.
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