SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The 2019 Southern Conference Men’s Golf Championship will be played Sunday through Tuesday at Pinehurst No. 9 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. This will be the sixth straight year the tournament is played at the par-72, 7,118-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature course.
This year’s event will be the 12th SoCon Championship played in Pinehurst. The event was also held in Pinehurst in 1937, 1939, 1948, 1969 and 1979-80, all on famed No. 2.
The league’s eight teams – ETSU, Furman, Mercer, UNC Greensboro, Samford, Chattanooga, Western Carolina and Wofford – will be competing for the SoCon tournament title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. The individual medalist will also earn an automatic regional qualification if he is not on the winning team.
After three straight runner-up finishes to ETSU from 2015-17, UNCG broke through for its first-ever SoCon title in 2018, claiming a five-stroke win over runner-up Chattanooga. Spartan freshman Nick Lyerly shot a 4-under-par 212 to claim medalist honors en route to SoCon Freshman of the Year laurels.
UNCG and Chattanooga had a pair of top-10 finishers each, while ETSU had three in the top 10 and finished third, four strokes back of the Mocs.
Six top-10 finishers from last year return, including all three of the Bucs’ – Jack Rhea (sixth last year), Geuntae Kim (T7th) and Shiso Go (T7th). Lyerly returns for the Spartans, as do Mercer’s Stanton Schorr (T2nd) and Furman’s Keller Harper (T4th), the reigning SoCon Player of the Year.
The Spartans, led by 2018 SoCon Coach of the Year Terrance Stewart, begin their title defense as the top-ranked team in the SoCon at No. 74 nationally. ETSU, helmed by 10-time SoCon Coach of the Year Fred Warren, who is retiring after this season, is No. 82. Furman and Mercer are just outside the top 100 at 105 and 107, respectively.
Under the direction of first-year head coach and Furman alum Matt Davidson, the Paladins lead the league in stroke average this season at 287.62, with ETSU right behind at 287.67. UNCG sits third at 288.17.
In addition to UNCG’s 2018 crown, ETSU owns 20 SoCon team titles, while Furman has 13 and Chattanooga has six to its credit. Furman’s last was in 2010, while Chattanooga claimed consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013.
ETSU and Furman share the SoCon record with 14 individual medalists each. Western Carolina has five, and UNCG, Chattanooga and Wofford claim two each.
Furman’s Harper enters the tournament leading the league with a 71.00 stroke average this season, while UNCG’s Jonathan Brightwell, the top-ranked SoCon golfer nationally at No. 135, is second with a 71.57 average. ETSU’s Rhea is third at 71.60, followed by UNCG’s Bryce Hendrix (71.67) and Lyerly (71.87) as five league golfers boast stroke averages under 72.
Five SoCon golfers have won tournaments this season, including Harper (River Run Collegiate, Furman Intercollegiate), Hendrix (Irish Creek Intercollegiate), Lyerly (UNCG Martin Downs Collegiate), Chattanooga’s Oliver Simonsen (Memphis Intercollegiate) and Furman’s Jack Crosby (Camden Collegiate Invitational, Wofford Invitational).
The Southern Conference Men’s Golf Championship boasts a rich history. Dating back to 1930, the tournament has produced winners such as Wake Forest’s Arnold Palmer (1948 and 1949) and Furman’s Brad Faxon (1983), both SoCon Hall-of-Famers, and current PGA TOUR pros Stephan Jaeger of Chattanooga (2012), J.T. Poston of Western Carolina (2014 and 2015) and William McGirt of Wofford (2001).
The tournament tees off with twosomes at 8 a.m. Sunday. Live stats can be found here.