Georgia Southern Travels to John Hayt Invitational
STATESBORO, Ga. - The Georgia Southern Golf team continues its spring campaign on Sunday, February 27th, as it travels to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational. The tournament, played at the par-72, 6,942-yard Sawgrass Country Club, features nine teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin Top 50 rankings with four teams ranking in the top 20. North Florida serves as the host for the 3 day event.
"Sawgrass Country Club is a very demanding course," said Head Coach Larry Mays. "Before they built the TPC Sawgrass course across the street, the Player's Championship was played at this course. One of the hardest tournaments ever played in the Player Championship was at this course in 1978 when the wind was brutal and [Jack] Nicklaus had to shoot a 75 to win."
The Eagles are part of a 15-team field that includes Alabama-Birmingham, Auburn, Arkansas, Central Florida, Coastal Carolina, Florida, Jacksonville, LSU, Mercer, Ole Miss, North Florida, TCU, Tennessee and Tulsa. Nine of the 14 teams competed against Georgia Southern in its last contest, the Gator Invitational, on February 12-13th.
"This tournament features another strong field, and it will be like that in every tournament this spring," stated Mays on the competition the Eagles will face. "Every field we go to, we're playing some of the best competition, some of the best teams in the Southeast. This one has a few teams from around the country, so we'll have to play well. There's no 'off week' in golf, every team is going to give you their best shot at each tournament you play."
The John Hayt will be the first three-day tournament for Georgia Southern this year. The Eagles have played two-day tournaments all year long which has participants play the first-and second-rounds on day one with the final round contended on the second day.
"The three-day tournament format makes it more relaxing and allows our team to calm down a little bit," Mays said. "Our Achilles Heel, looking at stats, has been sub-par first rounds. We have been a pretty good second-round team. Just having to play one round a day will allow the guys to go through a normal warm-up, get a good round in each day and not have to worry about playing 36 holes."
Georgia Southern will travel a different lineup to this tournament. Logan Blondell (Lakeland, Fla.), Florian Sander (Bregenz, Austria) and Lewis Gruber (Tallahassee, Fla.) return in the top three spots, while Hayden Anderson (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Will Evans (McDonough, Ga.) round out the five-man team. Jake Ware (Statesboro, Ga.) will be competing as an individual. Anderson traveled with the Eagles to the Gator, but competed as an individual.
"We've had a lot of different lineups with different guys in and out of the lineup. We can start getting consistency in the lineup and get the same guys week-in and week-out," stated Mays. "I feel like we are just a good tournament away from being a pretty good team"
Georgia Southern is coming up off a 13th-place finish at the Gator Invitational (Feb. 13). Since then, Coach Mays and Assistant Coach Carter Collins have geared the team focus towards consistent play in preparation for the John Hayt and the rest of the spring schedule.
"Being young and not having enough experience has led to some inconsistent play and that's what we been focusing on the last couple of weeks," Mays said. "We want more consistent play out of our guys and for them to make better decisions on the course. Golf is such a game of confidence. If we can get confidence, then I think we have the talent level to put good tournament performances together."
This will be the Eagles' third-straight trip to the John Hayt, finishing in the top 10 both times prior. As a team, Georgia Southern shot a 306 on the final day to finish 10th, four strokes out of a fifth-place finish in the 2010 tournament. Sander, then a redshirt-freshman, recorded his first collegiate top-five finish with a three-round 217 to place him in a tie for fifth. North Florida claimed the title, matching its second round 294 on the final frame for a three-day total 876.
Georgia Southern fired rounds of 298, 302 and 295 to capture third place at the 2009 John Hayt. Joe Monte led the team, finishing sixth. LSU led the field by eight strokes to take first-place team honors with an 885 (+21).
"We have played decently in this tournament the last few years," stated Mays. "If we can go down there, and get a good finish, that will help get us rolling for the rest of the spring."
Georgia Southern will be paired with Tulsa and Ole Miss for the first round. The Eagles will tee off from the 10th hole beginning at 8:18 a.m.
Fans can get live scoring of the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational by visiting www.golfstat.com.
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 Saturday, 26 February 2011 23:58