Huntingdon men's golf begins season with Wynlakes Wynter Nationals
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Huntingdon golf coach Matt Mahanic can't imagine a better way to open the spring season than hosting the Wynlakes Wynter Nationals.
It's an opportunity to see some of the top Division III competition in the country and a chance to do it on one of Huntingdon's home courses. Wynlakes Golf & Country Club will host the two-day tournament on Monday and Tuesday.
"It's an absolute dream scenario for us to start the season," Mahanic said. "This is a tournament we're very proud of here at Huntingdon. We're fortunate to have a great home course in Wynlakes and this is our opportunity to showcase it to the best teams in the country. This year, we have the past three Division III national champions (Greensboro, Methodist and Oglethorpe) and seven nationally ranked teams in the tournament.
"We put a lot of work into this tournament to make sure it's first-class. We want to make sure everyone enjoys coming to this tournament and looks forward to coming back in the future."
This is the 24th year of the tournament and this year's field of teams is impressive.
In addition to 13th-ranked Greensboro College (the defending national champion), fourth-ranked Methodist University (the 2010 national champion) and sixth-ranked Oglethorpe University (the 2009 national champion), Huntingdon is ranked 10th, Christopher Newport University is eighth, Emory University is 17th and Rhodes College is 22nd. Birmingham-Southern is not in the top-25, but is receiving votes in the Golf World/Nike Golf Coaches' Poll.
Birmingham-Southern, Rhodes and the Huntingdon B-Team will tee off beginning at 7:38 a.m. on Monday. Oglethorpe, Christopher Newport and Greensboro follow beginning at 8:18 a.m. and Huntingdon, Methodist and Emory tee off beginning at 8:58 a.m.
Mahanic expects his team to perform well this week and continue building through the spring season. The Hawks return one All-American (Cates Culpepper) and three players (Culpepper, Rodes Bowers and Jamey Lester) with experience in the 2011 NCAA championships.
"We have some good players returning," Mahanic said. "We're a fairly young team, but when we play well, we're as good as anyone in the country."
Mahanic said a pair of first-year Huntingdon golfers, junior Sam Strachan and freshman Steven Smith, emerged during the fall season. Mahanic said sophomore Griffin Just and freshman Thomas Mitchell are also playing well and battling for traveling spots.
"We're expecting a lot out of the guys," Mahanic said. "Coming out of the fall, we had a good stretch at the end, after what we considered a subpar performance during the middle of the fall season. Going forward, I hope that our performance in the fall has been motivation for the guys. I hope it has gotten them fired up to work a little harder and play better. So far, spring practice has been fantastic and we're just excited to get into competition."