GOLF TEAM RARING TO GO AT UPCOMING OVC CHAMPIONSHIPS THIS WEEKEND
April 22, 2014
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin golf team will vie for the right to be called Ohio Valley Conference champion when it travels to the league championships held at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at The Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Ala. on April 25-27.
The 54-hole championship spans 7,187 yards and will be played on the Fighting Joe course. A practice round is scheduled for Thursday, April 24, with Round 1 following on Friday, April 25, Round 2 coming on Saturday, April 26 and the final round occurring on Sunday, April 27. Live hole-by-hole scoring will be featured courtesy of GolfStat at the link above.
Sitting atop the OVC in scoring average is UT Martin, who averages a score of 292.66. Of the 11 teams in the OVC, the Skyhawks are tied for the most rounds played (11) and also boast two tournament victories, which is tied for the most with Belmont. UT Martin posted wins in its first and last tournaments of the regular season, emerging victorious at the Wasioto Winds Fall Kickoff Invitational (853, -11) on Sept. 9-10 and at the TSU Big Blue Intercollegiate (870, +6) on April 14-15.
Expectations are high for head coach Jerry Carpenter and the Skyhawks.
“This is the best overall team I’ve ever taken to the OVC Tournament,” said Carpenter, who is in his 11th season at the helm of the UT Martin golf program. “Our guys have the ability to compete with anybody in the OVC and I know we are better prepared and ready to play than any of my previous teams. With that said, statistics don’t mean anything – we have to go out there and perform because it is winner takes all.”
The Skyhawks are the only team in the OVC to have a trio of golfers in the top-12 in scoring average. Reining OVC Player of the Week Brendon Caballero, whose 4-under par performance in the 2013 OVC Championships was one shot away from medalist honors, is playing his best golf of the season, winning the TSU Big Blue Intercollegiate by five strokes last week. He ranks sixth in the league in scoring average (73.28) after racking up seven top-20 finishes this season and a low round of 67.
Ben Reeves, last year’s OVC Freshman of the Year, ranks right behind Caballero at No. 7 in scoring average (73.83), as he has also posted seven top-20 finishes in 2014. Tyler Shellnut (12th in scoring average at 73.91) also has seven top-20 finishes, including four top-5 results.
Clay Harbin and Austin Swafford each account for four top-20 finishes this season and are responsible for scoring averages of 74.46 and 74.72, respectively.
The aforementioned five golfers will represent UT Martin in a field that will also include Austin Peay, Belmont, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Murray State, SIU Edwardsville, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.
“We will be playing on a very good golf course that is very demanding on tee shots and shots to the green,” Carpenter said. “We will develop a good plan of attack during our practice round and hopefully execute, post some good scores and see what happens.”