Dickson, TN – With a year to think about its near miss of 2012, Austin Peay State University men’s golf team embarks with even greater determination on the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference championship hunt, Thursday, when the three-day 54-hole event opens at GreyStone Golf Club.Last year Jacksonville State edged Austin Peay by a single stroke to claim its second-straight title championship. The Govs built a healthy first-round tourney lead only to uncharacteristically give it back on Day 2. During the final round, the Govs had the lead late only to watch it slip away on the final hole.
It was the closest finish at the OVC Men’s Golf Championship since Austin Peay edged Murray State by a single stroke in 2009 and marked the sixth time the OVC Championship had been decided by a single stroke (1975, 1980, 1999, 2001, 2009 and 2012).
“The way last year’s tournament ended has been a motivational factor for the team this year,” APSU Coach Kirk Kayden said. ““I think that is a reason why they have had the success they have this year.
“This team has been very good in their ability to focus on each round, each hole, each shot this year.”
Austin Peay claimed a school-record five regular-season tournament titles this season, including three this spring (the team was second in the other two spring tournaments). APSU has finished in the top five in every tournament competition this season and ranks 73rd nationally, according to the most recent Golfstat rankings (JSU is 98th and Murray State 152nd).
The Governors have used a balanced attack that has seen four different players earn OVC Golfer of the Week honors a total of eight times this year. APSU has a league-best 292.8 scoring average.
APSU’s Anthony Bradley is the defending medalist, carding a three-round score of 210 (-6) and led from start-to-finish. It was the sixth medalist honors by an APSU golfer and first since the 2003 season. Bradley and senior Dustin Korte each earned two medalist honors in 2012-13. The Austin Peay trio of Bradley (72.9), Marco Iten (73.0) and Korte (73.2) rank fifth, sixth and seventh in the OVC in stroke average, respectively.
In addition to those three, sophomore Tucker Wallace, who played in the tourney a year ago, and freshman Chris Baker, who came on strong at season’s end will compete as the Governors five.
“We are coming into the championship with a lot of confidence, and I feel the guys are ready to play this week,” Kayden said. “All five starters this week have played the golf course which can be a big advantage.
“We just have to focus on playing golf and taking care of we can control. We have done this all year and that will be important theme this week. Our success has been about competitiveness and confidence and we need to bring that this week.”
Designed by PGA Tour pro Mark McCumber, GreyStone will play at 6,858-yard, par 72 for the three-day event, offering a 132 slope rating for the men’s championship. This is the fourth straight year GreyStone has served as tourney host for both the OVC men and women’s championships.
“It should be a great event once again at Greystone,” Kayden said. “They have been the host for four years and have enjoyed their hospitality.”
The men’s 11-team field will be the largest in OVC history with the addition of first-year member Belmont and inclusion of SIUE, which is eligible for postseason competition for the first time this season.
After Wednesday’s practice round, the tourney will begin 8:00am, Thursday, with APSU’s first tee time at 10:30am. The annual awards banquet will be held following the tourney’s first round, Thursday night. It will honor the 10-member All-OVC team as well as 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 tourney’s conclusion.
Hole-by-hole live results from each day of the championship can be accessed through links at www.golfstat.com.