JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 9, 2010) - The ETSU men's golf team could not have picked a better time or a better place to win its first tournament title of the 2009-10 season.
The Buccaneers, ranked 39th by Golfstat.com, fired a final round 299 to best No. 34 Wake Forest by seven strokes and No. 23 Clemson by eight strokes Tuesday at the JU Invitational hosted by Mark McCumber at the TPC Sawgrass. Playing on one of golf's most prestigious courses, the Bucs placed four players in the top 15, including a team-best performance by sophomore Michael Stewart (Troon, Scotland), who finished tied for third on the individual leaderboard at 6-over 222 (73-76-73).
Stewart finished four strokes back of Wake Forest's Brendan Gielow for the individual title, but the Bucs got strong showings from the rest of the team to take the tournament title. Senior Seamus Power (Waterford, Ireland) finished tied for 5th at 7-over-par, sophomore Rhys Enoch (Cornwall, England) tied for 11th at 10-over, and true freshman Garth McGee (Bangor, Northern Ireland) placed tied for 15th at 12-over.
"The course played hard as you can see from the scores, and it was a rollercoaster ride, but we did enough good things to win," said ETSU head coach Fred Warren, whose team won its 41st tournament title under his leadership. "This was just a great experience for the guys getting a chance to play TPC Sawgrass, and coming away with the win makes it even better. As a team, everyone contributed and did things to help us win, which was also good to see."
Stewart said getting an extra practice round in over the weekend and gatherinng advice on the course from former ETSU and PGA players Garrett Willis and Keith Nolan - who is currently serving as the team's assistant coach - were invaluable.
"Going there on Friday and having the perspective from Keith and Garrett was really a help for us," Stewart said. "Getting an extra look at the course was an advantage, and I think we were disciplined and respected the course. No. 16, 17 and 18 are great finishing holes, and it was obviously a fantastic opportunity to play Sawgrass. Winning the tournament starts our spring the right way."
The Bucs, who last won at the Kauai Collegiate Cup back in March of 2009, will be in action again Feb. 21 in the Puerto Rico Classic. For more on ETSU men's golf throughout the 2010 spring season, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men's golf link.