BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — With competition burning bright throughout the roster, the WKU men’s golf team will bring its entire roster south for the first outing of the spring.
The Hilltoppers return to the course this week in South Alabama’s Mobile Sports Authority Intercollegiate, while the rest of the team’s individuals will compete nearby in the USA Individual Tournament.
“The guys have been working really hard in the offseason,” WKU head coach Phillip Hatchett said. “Fortunately, some went down south to Texas, some went down to Florida and got to play in some competitions, which really helps coming into the spring time. All the guys are ready to go, and they’ve been pushing each other really hard.”
The MSA Intercollegiate takes place Monday and Tuesday at the par-72, 7,212-yard Magnolia Grove Crossings Golf Course in Mobile, Ala. It begins with 36 holes Monday on an 8 a.m. shotgun start, followed by Tuesday’s final round.
The USA Individual Tournament follows the same schedule at the par-71, 7,158-yard Magnolia Grove Falls Golf Course.
Also competing in the competitive 15-team field are Abilene Christian, Alcorn State, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Georgia State, Illinois State, Kansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisville, Mississippi State, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Texas State and West Virginia.
Redshirt senior Nick Thompson, junior Bryant Evans, redshirt sophomore Billy Tom Sargent, sophomore Blake Smith and redshirt freshman Linus Lo will represent WKU in the tournament.
Senior Colin Frizzell, sophomore Stuart Easton and freshmen Tom Bevington and Kyle Jeffers will participate separately in the USA Individual Tournament.
Hatchett said competition has been fierce among the teammates as they improved by almost a full stroke in the fall from the previous year.
“We’ve got nine guys on the team who are as competitive as can be with each other,” Hatchett said. “Guys have really got to step up if they’re going to crack the top five, and they realize that.”
The Hilltoppers are coming out of a six-event fall campaign that included five top-10 finishes and two top-three results.
WKU also had four top-five individual finishes, including two tournament victories by Sargent. He was named C-USA Golfer of the Week following both performances.
Hatchett said Sargent’s elite play “raised the bar” for the entire team and gave them new expectations now that they’ve seen a teammate hoist the trophy.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves and about the team,” Sargent said. “Everybody went on spurts where they played really good, and everybody – including myself – had a rough day or a rough tournament. It’s nice to have success, but the down times is when you really learn a lot about yourself and what you need to work on.”
The Hilltoppers will compete in five tournaments this spring before the C-USA Championships on April 23-26 at Texarkana Country Club in Texarkana, Ark.
“We’ve got really great tournaments and we’re playing on great courses,” Sargent said. “The biggest thing is playing in really good fields. We’re playing guys in the top 100 and top 50, but I expect big things from us this spring. We’re working hard, and we’ve tried to work on our weaknesses across the offseason.”
How to follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Golf, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUMensGolf.