CEDAR CITY, Utah, Aug. 27 – Southern Utah University’s men’s golf team opens its 2013 fall season next week when the Thunderbirds travel to Victor, Idaho, to compete at Weber State University’s Battle in the Tetons. The tournament is being held Monday and Tuesday at the par 72, 7,400-yard Headwaters Golf Club at Teton Springs Resort, with 36 holes on Monday and 18 on Tuesday.
Senior Jake Holt, juniors Nic Booth, Sammy Cole and Tim Leonard and one of two freshmen, Braxton Williams or Jameson Keiley, will compete for the Thunderbirds with the other freshman scheduled to compete as an individual.
The field for the tournament has not been released.
SUU is coming off a second-place finish in the America Sky Conference in their first season in that league after competing the previous 15 years in the Summit League.
SUU finished fifth at the Battle in the Tetons last year and second in 2011. Junior Nic Booth, who redshirted last season, finished third in 2011, the Thunderbirds’ best individual finish at the three-year old tournament.
Last Year At Battle in the Tetons: Tim Leonard finished ninth and Jake Holt was 15th as SUU came in fifth at the Battle at the Tetons after carding its low round of the tournament, 293, in the final round. The Thunderbirds sat seventh after the opening day’s play but were able to move past South Dakota State and host Weber State with a final score of 891. Wyoming claimed the team championship with an 847. Leonard shot a final round 73 to finish at 3-over par 219, nine shots off the pace of Wyoming’s Eddie Steward (208), while Holt finished at 221 after another 73 in the final round. SUU’s Sammy Cole finished just out of the top-20, in 21st at 226, while John Reid was 33rd at 230 and Taylor Schone was 36th at 232. SUU’s Brady Welburn and Connor Van Gilder, who were competing as individuals, finished 47th and 48th, respectively, at 245 and 251.
The Coach: Richard Church (Utah ‘89) is in his 14th season as head golf coach and his 18th 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 runner-ups and the University’s first NCAA post-season competitor in golf. He has also seen the team finish second in the league seven times during his tenure as head or assistant coach, including last season when the ‘Birds finished second in their inaugural season in the America Sky Conference.
Last Time Out: Houston Baptist came from behind to thwart Southern Utah’s hopes for an America Sky Conference golf championship, overcoming a five-stroke deficit on the back nine at the par 72, 6,936-yard Dominion Country Club to take a three stroke win over the Thunderbirds. SUU had a one-shot lead over the Huskies heading into the day’s play and extended it to five shots as the teams made the turn, but HBU’s Jeffery Merrell led a charge with four birdies on the back nine to bring the team in at 2-under par on the back and one-over par for the day at 289. Meanwhile, after making the turn with all five players in the top-20, SUU struggled on the back nine (the more difficult track all week), coming in at 6-over par for that nine and 5-over for the day. When the dust had settled Houston Baptist won the tournament at 7-over par 871 while SUU finished second at 10-over 874. Jake Holt was SUU’s low finisher, tied for fifth at 216 after a round of 1-under par 71 on Wednesday, three shots off the pace of medalist Jordan Weir of Sacramento State. Taylor Schone, who shot 68 on Tuesday to boost SUU into the second round lead and was in fourth place entering the day, finished tied for 11th at 219. John Reid had the Thunderbirds’ best round of the day, a 70, to finish 16th at 221, while Tim Leonard finished 18th at 222 after a round of 77 and Sammy Cole was 24th at 225 after a round of 76.
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