Georgia Southern Golf Returns Home for the 32nd Annual Schenkel Invitational
STATESBORO, Ga. - The Georgia Southern Golf team, starting out the spring season on the road for three-straight tournaments, returns to Statesboro to compete in the 32nd annual Schenkel Invitational March 18-20th. The tournament, played at the par-72, 6,962-yard Forest Heights Country Club, features five teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin Top-25 rankings and six teams that participated in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
All three rounds of the Schenkel Invitational are open to the public and admission is free.
"We have spent a lot of weeks on the road and in hotel rooms, so it's nice to have a home feel to a tournament this week," said Eagle Head Coach Larry Mays. "We are getting to play on a course that all our players are familiar with and have played on many times. We should have some confidence for that reason. Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage this week and get a good finish."
The Schenkel Invitational, dubbed by Golf World as the "Collegiate Championship of the East," features another championship-caliber field from across the country. The 2011 field includes Auburn, Florida, Georgia Southern, Kentucky, LSU, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, North Carolina, N.C. State, North Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia.
Florida leads the field in the current Golfweek/Sargarin poll in fifth place. Auburn, the 2010 winner, ranks ninth with LSU in 12th place. Virginia and N.C. State round out the teams in the top 25, ranked 19th and 20th place, respectively. Georgia Southern, North Florida and Tennessee join Florida, Auburn and Virginia as participants in last year's NCAA Championship.
"Year in and year out, we have one of the best fields in college golf and this year is no exception," stated Mays. "The community is looking forward to playing host to all these great teams at the Schenkel this year."
The Schenkel Invitational is named after Hall-of-Fame sports broadcaster Chris Schenkel. Schenkel, who was the first to cover The Masters on television, the first to anchor a live telecast of the Olympics and to call a nationally broadcast college football game, helped lend his name to a tournament that has grown into one of the premier collegiate golf tournaments in the nation.
"Chris [Schenkel] had been here in the in the 1940s with the U.S. Army doing some training and schooling at the Georgia Southern Teachers College, and fell in love with the town of Statesboro and the community," said Schenkel Committee Chair Dr. Bill Perry. "Years later, he allowed us to use his name for the tournament when we approached him about the idea, and it has worked out great."
The lending of Schenkel's name and contacts helped the tournament get started and attract an elite field every year that stretches across the country. The tournament has attracted 67 different schools from 25 states and the nation's capital. Current and past PGA pros David Toms, Scott Verplank, Hal Sutton, Jodie Mudd, Luke Donald and Bubba Watson have competed in the invitational.
Through the years, six teams and three players have won the tournament en route to capturing the NCAA team and individual titles. Florida ('73), Wake Forest ('74, '86) and Oklahoma State ('80, '83, '87) won both team titles. Curtis Strange and Gary Halberg, both from Wake Forest, won the tournament and NCAA Championship in 1974 and 1979, respectively. Matt Hill of N.C. State was the most recent golfer to accomplish the feat, winning both titles in 2009.
Thirty-one years of Schenkel competition has also produced four players who have gone on to win the U.S. Open. Jerry Pate ('76), Andy North ('78, '85), Curtis Strange ('88, '89) and Lucas Glover ('09) have all been crowned U.S. Open Champion.
Last year, both the team and individual medalist honors were won by one stroke. Auburn, trailing North Florida by seven strokes heading into the final round, won the tournament with a 2-under 862 tournament total. A three-man playoff determined the 2010 individual medalist. Jonathan Randolph of Ole Miss birdied the first playoff hole to win the title over Alabama's Hunter Hamrick and North Florida's Jordan Gibb.
Twelve of the 15 teams from the 2010 field are back again for the 2011 Schenkel Invitational. Georgia Southern, who has appeared in every tournament, joins six other schools, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, N.C. State and North Carolina, who have been in the field every year since 2000. Kentucky makes its sixth-straight appearance with 11 total trips to the Schenkel while North Florida has participated annually in the tournament since its first appearance in 2008. The other three schools, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Virginia, have competed the last two years. Virginia returned to the Schenkel after a 10-year absence while Ole Miss appeared in the 2009 field for the first time since 1989. The year 2009 marked the first time Vanderbilt participated in the tournament.
Mississippi State is making its first appearance at the Schenkel Invitational since 1989. Two other teams make their way back to the Schenkel after not appearing in the 2010 tournament field. Notre Dame returns after missing last year. Minnesota returns to the tournament after a two-year absence.
Georgia Southern has finished seventh place or better in four of the last six Schenkel Invitationals. The Eagles' highest finish at the tournament came in 1977, 1979 and 2001 when the team finished second. Its best team score was also posted in 2001 when the Eagles posted a 6-under 858. Buddy Alexander, head coach at Florida, owns the lowest tournament total for an Eagle at the Schenkel, posting a 13-under 203 for a third-place finish in 1975.
Jimmy Ellis and Richie Bryant both recorded 8-under 208s as the the only two Eagles to win individual medalist honors. Ellis won the third annual Schenkel in 1973 while Bryant took home the crown in 1989. Jon David Bryant forced a playoff with South Carolina's Mark Anderson in 2005, but came up short, finishing second.
Georgia Southern finished 12th in the 2010 Schenkel after a three-year stretch of top 10 finishes. Senior Logan Blondell led the Eagles, tying for sixth place as an individual. As a freshman, Blondell fired a 6-under 210 (73-69-68) to finish in third place. Coming so close to winning the individual title, Blondell says his approach this year is no different from years past.
"Every year I come in with the same expectations," said Blondell on his preparations for this year's Schenkel. "I'm trying to win every tournament I play, but this tournament is the one we are most prepared for. I go into it knowing that I'm prepared and that I am going to be ready to play. It would be great this year to be in contention and win the Schenkel."
Georgia Southern will go with Florian Sander (Bregenz, Austria), Blondell, Matt Deal (Statesboro, Ga.), Jake Ware (Statesboro, Ga.) and Thomas Sharkey (Helensburgh, Scotland) as its lineup for the Schenkel.
Live scoring of the Schenkel Invitational is available at www.golfstat.com. Fans may also follow the Schenkel Invitational at twitter.com/SchenkelInvite. Follow the Eagle Golf team on GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com/golf or get short updates on facebook.com/GSAthletics or twitter.com/GSAthletics.
- Category: Golf
- Published on Friday, 18 March 2011 09:27