The weather became the main headline as the Cleveland State golf team opened its spring season on Monday at the Hiwassee Spring Invite played at River Islands Golf Club just outside of Sevierville, TN. With wind chills in the 20's and intermittent flurries the tournament looked a little more akin to Survivor than a college golf tournament.
After the first round the Cougars were sitting in fourth place in the five team field, but only trailed tournament leader Bryan College by ten shots after shooting a team score of 343. Colbe Cagle led the way for CSCC with an opening round 79 which put him in fifth place. The first round scoring average was 89, and only five golfers were able to break 80 amid the frozen temperatures and difficult conditions.
"In nice weather golf can be difficult to play well, but when you have to wear three or four layers of clothing, it becomes quite challenging to make a good swing," said Cleveland State head coach Miles Moseley in reference to the weather. "These were two tough days. I don't ever remember playing in a golf tournament and looking at snow capped mountains just a few miles away. It was a great day for snow skiing."
The second round saw the scoring average improve slightly to 87, but once again, only five players were able to break 80. Jared Thomas was the low man for the Cougars with a 79 followed by Seth Ward with an 80. Thomas' scores of 86-79 were good enough for a fifth place finish overall, landing him on the all-tournament team. The team improved only one shot on day two finishing with a 342 which kept them in fourth place with an overall score of 685. Bob Jones University and Bryan College tied for first at 670.
"The entire field was separated by only nineteen shots. If each player improved their scores by just two shots, we would win the tournament," said Moseley. "We wanted to use this first tournament to see where we are and where we need to improve. The guys' swings are looking much better, but our short games need a lot of work, and that's what we'll be working on before our next tournament. The guys really kept a good attitude in spite of the rough conditions. We're just thankful that the van had good heat."
The Cleveland State golf team will return to the links on March 30-31 at the Johnson University Spring Invitational in Sevierville, TN, followed immediately by the Phoenix Invitational hosted by Cumberland University in Lebanon, TN, on April 1-2.
Jared Thomas: 86-79
Seth Ward: 88-80
Colbe Cagle: 79-93
Garrett Jones: 90-92
Ethan Chastain: 94-91