PINE MOUNTAIN, GA – The Peach Belt Conference will host its 19th annual men’s golf tournament championship, part of the PBC Championship Series Presented by GEICO, beginning on Monday, April 12, at Calloway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga. The venue is new, some of the teams are new and, for the first time, the men’s tournament will be played in conjunction with the PBC women’s golf tournament in its inaugural season. The men will play the Mountain View course at Calloway Gardens while the women will play on the Lake View course. The men’s tournament will feature 36 holes of play on day one with 18 more on Tuesday. The winner of the PBC championship receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.
While many things are new with the golf tournament, some things will never change including GCSU as a championship contender. The Bobcats have been nationally ranked in the top three all season long, including the #1 spot twice in the fall. Currently #2 in the nation, GCSU leads the PBC in team stroke average at 289.1. The Bobcats have won twice in 2009-10, including the Matlock Invitational in February, with five top-three finishes and have not finished lower than sixth in any tournament this year. Leading GCSU are a trifecta of player of the year candidates in Joe Young, Francisco Bide and Niclas Johansson who are ranked 1, 2 and 3 in the PBC in stroke average. Young is the league leader with a 72.3 and has three top-five finishes in his 10 events including a win at the Matlock. GCSU will be looking for their first PBC championship since 2000.
Lander may be the hottest team in the PBC heading to Calloway Gardens. The Bearcats won their own Lander Classic at the end of March, finishing seven strokes ahead of GCSU and Armstrong Atlantic State. Since restarting the program in 2006, the Bearcats are enjoying their highest national ranking, currently seventh in the nation. Roberto Nasalli-Roca is sixth in the PBC in stoke average at 73.0 per round while Charlie Hoyle is currently ninth at 73.2. Talented freshman Davis Lee has twice been named the PBC Player of the Week and fired the lowest single round in the conference so far this season with a 63 at the Lander Classic.
UNC Pembroke has never finished higher than fourth in a PBC Championship, but may have the team to make a run for the title this year. The Braves have the third-best team stroke average in the PBC and have finished in the top three four times this year, including two of their last three tournaments heading to the Peach Belt. UNCP finished second at the season-opening Honda of Columbia Fall Classic in September and were second at last weekend’s Carolina Sands Intercollegiate. Jordan Walor was named the 2009 PBC Freshman of the Year and is having an even better sophomore season with a win at the Honda Classic and top-fives at the AASU Pirate Invitational and the Barton Intercollegiate. Walor is fourth in the PBC in stroke average.
Armstrong Atlantic State is also playing their best at the right time and enter the PBC Championship having placed in the top five in five of their six spring events including a third at the Grub Mart Intercolleigate and second at the Lander Classic in late March. The Pirates set a new three-round school record at the Lander Classic with a 279 in the final round and are fourth in the PBC in team stroke average. Sophomore Matthew Motes leads the team and is 14th in the PBC in stroke average. He has three top-10s this spring with a 2nd-place at the Don Benbow Invitational.
Flagler will make their PBC Championship debut after the school joined the league starting this year. The Saints are currently ranked 14th in the nation after winning three straight tournaments in February and early March. The win streak began at the 15-team Outback Invitational and continued through the 15-team Barton Intercollegiate. Patrick Lamb headlines a trio of players who average under 74 strokes per round. Lamb is currently eighth in the PBC at 73.2 while Chris Bray is 10th at 73.3 and Joel Dahlenburg is at 73.9. Bray won the Will Wilson Southeast Preview while Dahlenburg captured the Outback Intercollegiate and Lamb was the medalist after a playoff in the Barton Intercollegiate.
USC Aiken has won the PBC Championship five times in the last eight years but will be looking for their first title since 2008 at Calloway Gardens. The Pacers have played in many tournaments with largely Division I fields but are fifth in the PBC in team stroke average. Kevin Grady leads the team with a 73.8 stroke average while Frederik Schulte finished second at the Will Wilson Southeast Preview. USCA as a team finished second at that tournament, one of their five top-10 results this season.
Columbus State is the host of the 2010 PBC Championships and will be seeking their first league title since 2007. The Cougars finished third at both the Indian Bayou Classic and the Outback Intercollegiate and were ninth in their most recent outing at the Bobcat Invitational. Stephen Swanepoel leads the team and is ranked 11th in the PBC with a 73.3 stroke average. He finished second at the Indian Bayou and has been the team’s low shooter in two of their last four tournaments.
Georgia Southwestern turned in three straight top-10s this spring at the Outback, AASU Pirate and Don Benbow tournamens. The Hurricanes will look to Craig Gibson, who is ranked fifth in the PBC in stroke average at 72.8. Gibson finished tied for third at the Queens Invitational last fall.
Clayton State is the defending PBC Tournament Champions after capturing their first league title last year in Carthage, N.C. The 2010 Lakers remain a threat to repeat with a sixth-place finish at the Lander Classic, their best result of the spring. Clayton State shot their two lowest team rounds of the season in that tournament. Wade Binfield leads the team with a 73.6 stroke average and was tied for ninth at the Southeastern Collegiate in Valdosta.
Montevallo will also be making their Peach Belt Championship debut at Calloway Gardens after the school joined the Peach Belt. The Falcons have two top-fives in their last four events including a win at the six-team West Georgia Invitational in March. UM fired a team-low round of 283 at the Lander Classic, their most recent tournament. Aaron Ebert leads the team in stroke average while Jon Henderson was named a PBC Player of the Week and won the West Georgia event.
North Georgia will end their inaugural season of men’s golf at their first PBC Championships. The Saints have hit the ground running with a win at the 11-team Piedmont Invitational and a third-place at the St. Andrews Invitational. Bryson Womack leads the team in stroke average and finished second at the Piedmont.
Tee times for Monday’s opening round of the PBC Championship have not been announced. Admission to Calloway Gardens for both the men’s and women’s tournaments is free. The 2010 All-Conference teams will be announced at a banquet on Sunday evening. Columbus State will provide live stats for all three rounds of the PBC Tournament through Golfstat, fans unable to make the trip to Pine Mountain can follow all the action here.