Golden Eagles join the fight this week at OVC Men's Golf Championships

Golden Eagles join the fight this week at OVC Men's Golf Championships

2016 OVC Men’s Golf Championship Information Page
By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Senior veterans Mitch Thomas and Bryce Kendrick will be joined by three teammates competing in the tournament for the first time as the Tennessee Tech men’s golf team plays in the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Men's Golf Championship, Monday through Wednesday.

Following a practice round Sunday, the 11-team field will tee-off Monday morning at the The Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Ala., on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The 54-hole tourney continues with 18 holes Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thomas earned all-tournament honors last year with a fifth place individual finish, and Kendrick placed 11th as the pair helped coach Polk Brown’s team tie for second place last season. That pair headlines the lineup this time around, along with three players making their OVC Tournament debut.  The lineup includes senior Neil Gannaway, redshirt freshman Ben Huskey and freshman Mathew Giles.

THE TOURNEY SCHEDULE: The teams will have a practice round on Sunday and tee off on Monday morning at 8 a.m.
Teams will play 18 holes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The annual awards dinner will be held following the first round of play on Monday night. The event will honor the 10-member All-OVC team as well as the All-Newcomer Team and Freshman of the Year. The OVC Player of the Year, Coach of the Year as well as All-Tournament and Tournament MVP awards will be presented at the conclusion of the championship.

GOLDEN EAGLE LINEUP: Three seniors will open the tournemant in the three top positions in the Golden Eagle lineup, header by senior Mitch Thomas. Senior Neil Gannaway is in the No. 2 spot, followed by senior Bryce Kendrick at No. 3, freshman Matthew Giles as the No. 4, and redshirt freshman Ben Huskey in the final position. Only two of this year’s Tech Five played in last year’s conference tournament – Thomas and Kendrick.

THE COMPETITION: The tournament will feature 11 teams - Austin Peay, Belmont, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Murray State, SIUE, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin.

The Shoals is home to two 18-hole championship courses and lies between the Wheeler and Wilson dams on the Tennessee River. Wheeler Dam is named in honor of General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Wheeler - the only Confederate General to attain the same rank later in the United States Army. The Fighting Joe course at The Shoals was the first Trail course to break 8,000 yards. Travel + Leisure Golf named Fighting Joe one of the top new courses in 2004.

For the OVC Championship, Fighting Joe will be par 72 with yardage of 7,258.

The OVC Men's Championship has been held at The Shoals three times previously (2009, 2014 and 2015) and is also scheduled to be played there in 2017.

LAST YEAR: Eastern Kentucky won its 12th OVC Championship last year, topping the field by five shots.

The Colonels victory came over a trio of teams who finished tied for second (Tennessee Tech, Belmont and Murray State). Individually UT Martin’s Brendon Caballero won the medalist title by a stroke while the second and third place finishers would eventually earn at-large berths to the NCAA Championship.

TECH IN 2015: The Golden Eagles capped three days of consistent golf with a second-place showing at the 2015 OVC Championship. After firing round of 290 in each of the first two rounds, the Golden Eagle squad came back with a 293 over the final 18 holes of competition, tying with both Belmont and Murray State for second place with an overall three-day score of 873. Eastern Kentucky took home the tournament title, winning by five strokes in large part due to its second-round tally of 280. Mitch Thomas led the way for Tech, capturing All-Tournament honors after tying for fifth with a final overall score of 215. Bryce Kendrick narrowly missed out on a Top 10 finish, placing 11th.

LONG TIME COMING: Tying for second at the 2015 conference tournament marked the best finish for the Golden Eagles in the OVC Championships since tying for first (and falling to EKU in a playoff) in the 2006 tournament.

THOUGHTS FROM COACH BROWN: "Coming off a strong finish at TSU (April 11-12), the guys have been hard at work in preparation for OVC. The guys, especially Mitch and Bryce, have been looking forward to getting back to Muscle Shoals since last year’s tie for second place finish.  These young men are focused and ready to leave it all on the golf course.  Our conference has a lot parity, and if we play our game, we anticipate being right there come Wednesday afternoon. We can’t wait to get started.”

WEATHER FORECAST: Warm weather and mostly dry conditions will greet the golfers, until a fair chance of scattered thunderstorms for Wednesday’s final round. The practice round Sunday should be played under sunny skies and low humidity, with a high around 84 degrees. Monday’s forecast high is 85 degrees with mostly sunny skies, while Tuesday calls for mostly cloudy skies, a high of 86 and a 20 percent chance of precipitation. Wednesday calls for a 40 percent chance of rain, and a high of 8s7 degrees.