Catamount Men’s Golf, CCSV Host the JT Poston Invitational

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Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina men’s golf returns to the beautiful Country Club of Sapphire Valley in southern Jackson County Sept. 25-27 to host the 2022 JT Poston Invitational. A combined 17 teams and 93 total golfers vie for the championship over the two-day, 54-hole stroke-play event at the par-71, 7,007-yard course layout.
 
WCU’s home tournament returns to the Country Club of Sapphire Valley (CCSV) for the 16th season overall with the Catamounts and CCSV combining to host the sought-after intercollegiate men’s golf tournament.
 
For just the sixth time in event history at the CCSV, the 2022 JT Poston Invitational plays out in a 54-hole format with 36 holes of continuous play with a shotgun start on Monday, Sept. 26, and the third and final round to tee off on Tuesday, Sept. 27 from tee boxes on both the first and 10th holes. The practice round is scheduled for Sunday at the Country Club of Sapphire Valley.
 
Live scoring of the tournament will be available online through GolfStat.com.
 
“We say it every year, but it still rings true now more than ever. We are beyond fortunate to be able to call the Country Club of Sapphire Valley a home course and to host a top-notch collegiate tournament at this spectacular venue in front of a great membership and our Catamount fan base,” said WCU head coach Tim Eckberg. “It’s an incredible golf course, and now tied with a former Catamount great and a rising star on the PGA Tour, I’m extremely proud to have the opportunity to showcase some of the best college golf here once again.”

JT Poston, a two-time PGA Tour winner and the tournament’s namesake, won individual medalist honors in WCU’s home event back in 2013 – the first time the then Hummingbird Intercollegiate played out at 54 holes. The Hickory, N.C., native carded a then WCU school-record 54-hole score of 204. Adding top 10 finishes of ninth in 2011 and third, in 2015, Poston’s average finish over his four-year career at the tournament was eighth. Poston concluded his playing career as WCU’s all-time leading scorer with a stroke average of 71.73 and owns four of the program’s top 15 individual single-season scoring averages.

 

The host Catamounts are joined in the 2022 field are fellow Southern Conference foes Chattanooga and Wofford. Rounding out the field is Abilene Christian, Appalachian State, Bellarmine, Belmont, Coastal Carolina, Elon, Francis Marion, Georgia State, High Point, James Madison, Kennesaw State, Morehead State, UNC Wilmington, and Western Kentucky.

 

Among this year’s tournament field are five former team champions, including two-time event winners Western Carolina (2007, 2016) and Wofford (2013, 2015). Appalachian State won the 2011 tournament title. The field also includes five teams making their first trip to Sapphire Valley – Abilene Christian, Bellarmine, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, and James Madison.

 

The event’s defending individual medalist – Chattanooga sophomore Braedon Wear – returns to defend his title, though the tournament has never seen a repeat winner. A tourney-high three Catamounts have stood atop the podium at their home tournament, including Dylan MacQueen in 2016, Poston in 2013, and Andres Cuenca in 2007, with Keith Tyburski finishing tied for first in 2004 before falling on the second hole of a playoff. Only Furman (2009 2014) and Vanderbilt (2008, 2010) have had multiple medalists in event history.

 

The field also includes a pair of teams coached by former Catamount head coaches as Bryant Odom brings his Kennesaw State Owls up from Georgia, and Carter Cheves has his James Madison Dukes ready for competition in the field for the first time.

Three of the previous tournaments at the CCSV have been decided by a single stroke including the most recent event back in 2019 as Georgia Southern edged hard-charging South Carolina, 805-to-806, to become the first program to go back-to-back for the team championship at the Poston Invitational or Hummingbird Intercollegiate. Clemson defeated SoCon-foe Furman by a single marker in 2014 with UCF rallying past Vanderbilt in 2008 for a one-stroke victory in the 36-hole format.

 

Last year, South Carolina made its two-stroke advantage over Chattanooga standup, holding off a charge by the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders to claim championship honors.

 

Playing at a par-71, 7,007-yard layout this year, the beautiful Country Club of Sapphire Valley is a private, member-owned club that features a valley golf course, plush clubhouse, state-of-the-art fitness center, and tennis center. The course meanders through the backdrop of mature hardwood forest and the scenic mountains of the southern Appalachians that provides breathtaking views and a natural setting. The course, which sits on a level valley floor despite its mountainous surroundings, was initially designed by George Cobb and was updated by Bill Bergin.

 

Western Carolina opened the 2022-23 season at the rain-shortened Badger Invitational in Wisconsin by sitting in the runner-up position after the first of two rounds. However, the Catamounts came home 13th overall and are eager to return to their home course. With a roster equally split between returners and newcomers,

 

All eight active members of the WCU roster will compete in the home tournament with three individuals joining the scoring five. Senior Magnus Pedersen is coming off a 35th-place finish at last year’s Poston Invitational that included matching a career-low round with a 68 in the first round last season. The Moss, Norway, product shot 208 for a 16th-place tie as a freshman back in 2019. He is flanked by transfer newcomers Ryan Thomas and Adam Hooker in the second and third seeds. Though in his first season on the WCU roster, Hooker has played in the tournament before as a member of the High Point Panthers’ roster back in 2019.

 

Rounding out WCU’s scoring five are fifth-year senior Louis Theys and redshirt junior transfer Pablo Hernandez. Theys, who has competed unattached as an individual in the past two events held at CCSV, is seeded fourth. Hernandez fired a first-round 69 in his WCU debut in Wisconsin.

 

The three Catamounts that will compete for the individual championship unattached are senior Quinton Metz, sophomore Kiefer Bulau, and transfer Josh Lendach. Bulau made his collegiate debut at last year’s home tournament as a true freshman while Metz makes his third appearance at the home tournament field. Lendach is a redshirt freshman from Raleigh who transferred before this season as he makes his WCU debut as an individual.

  

Complete results and recaps of both days will be made available after play Monday and Tuesday.

 

Keep track of everything related to Catamount men’s golf and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports), Instagram (@wcu_catamounts), and Twitter (@catamounts, @CatamountMGolf).

 

 


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