CEDAR CITY, Utah, Feb. 20 – Southern Utah University’s men’s golf team plays the second event of its 2013 spring season this weekend when the Thunderbirds compete at the University of Wyoming’s Desert Intercollegiate. 

The 17-team tournament will be contested Friday, Saturday and Sunday with 18 holes per day at the par 72, 7,305-yard Classic Club.

This year’s field includes Southern Utah, Oregon State, Santa Clara, St. Mary’s College (CA), Kansas, Nebraska, San Francisco, Texas Tech, Idaho, Iowa State, TCU, Wichita State, Cal Poly, Arkansas-Little Rock, George Mason, Louisiana Monroe and host Wyoming.

Juniors Jake Holt and Taylor Schone, sophomores Sammy Cole and Tim Leonard and freshman John Reid will compete for the Thunderbirds, while freshman Brady Welburn is scheduled to compete as an individual. 

The Thunderbirds are coming off an 11th place finish at their own Pat Hicks Thunderbird Invitational.

Last Year At The Desert Intercollegiate: Southern Utah’s men’s golf team shot a final-round 295 over the 7,305-yard Classic Club course to move up two spots and finish 17th with a final score of 894 at the 24-team tournament. Jeff Evans led the way, for the Thunderbirds at 3-over par 219 to finish 40th, while freshman Sammy Cole finished 68th at 225, senior Brad Millard was 78th at 227, sophomore Jake Holt finished 92nd at 230 and sophomore Nic Booth was 98th at 232. Evans carded rounds of 73-71-75 while Cole moved up 15 spots with a final-round 70 after opening at 76-79. As a team SUU shot an opening-round 300 on Saturday, followed with a 299 in a split round that began on Saturday but was suspended because of darkness and finished on Sunday, then wrapped up with the 295. Fourteenth-ranked UNLV was the team champion at 20-under par 844, while No. 50 Texas Tech was second at 851 and No. 2 Auburn was third at 855. SUU finished three shots behind UC Riverside (891) and three ahead of Cal Poly (897) in the tournament that featured nine teams ranked among Golfstat’s top-50 NCAA Division I squads, including four top-20 teams: Auburn, UNLV, No. 15 Texas A&M (finished tied for fifth with #47 SMU) and Kent State (finished eighth at even par 864) at 2-under 862.

The Coach: Richard Church (Utah ‘89) is in his 13th season as head golf coach and his 17th on the staff at Southern Utah. Prior to taking over the program from former Coach John Evans, Church spent four seasons as the Thunderbirds’ assistant coach. During his tenure on the SUU staff, Church has coached five academic all-Americans, one Mid-Continent Conference medalist, two Mid-Con runners-up and the University’s first two NCAA post-season competitors in golf. He has also seen the team finish second in its respective leagues six times.

Last Time Out: Southern Utah shot 306 on Tuesday after an opening round 303 for a two-day total 609, which left the host Thunderbirds in 11th place at the Pat Hicks Thunderbird Invitational.  Tim Leonard paced SUU with a 29th place finish at 7-over par 151, with Jake Holt second among Thunderbirds in 41st at 152. Sammy Cole was 46th at 153, Taylor Schone finished 65th at 156 and Connor Van gilder was 79th at 160. John Reid, who was playing as an individual, finished tied with Leonard in 29th at 151, while Brady Welburn was 86th at 164, also competing as an individual.