The Georgia Southern Eagle golf team accomplished a first Sunday at Forest Heights Country Club. The Eagles capped a wire-to-wire victory for the team’s first back-to back Schenkel Invitational titles in program history.
The Eagles maintained a 10-shot lead from the end of the opening round Friday through the conclusion on Sunday. Head coach Carter Collins said how special this year’s group of seniors has been to him, and their unprecedented success, as they have now won three Schenkel titles in their careers at Georgia Southern.
“This is a great way for these four seniors to go out, but they got plenty of help from a freshman and a sophomore as well,” Collins said. “This was a full team victory this week and it is just so special. I am proud of them, and the moments on the 18th hole today with Ben (Carr) making a birdie to win the individual title, and that shot by Wilson Andress was as loud as I have ever heard applause at a college golf tournament.”
The 19th-ranked Eagles (-27) won by 11 strokes over No. 24 Mississippi State (-16). Middle Tennessee (-7) took third, Liberty (-5) placed fourth and Kentucky (+1) was fifth.
It was Georgia Southern's fourth Schenkel Invitational team title. The Eagles won their first in 2014. Georgia Southern has won the event or finished runner-up in each of the last six times it was contested (2020 was canceled).
The only real question Sunday would be if the Eagles would be able to complete the sweep with a team and individual title. Coming into the final hole, Carr needed a birdie to capture his first Schenkel individual title. He put his second shot on the par-5 hole to within about 25 feet. His third shot to within four feet, and then tapped in the birdie as the crowd that had assembled around the green erupted.
Carr’s birdie finished the tournament at 8-under, which was one shot better than Hunter Logan of Mississippi State. He is the fifth Eagle to win medalist honors, joining Steven Fisk (2019), Scott Wolfes (2014), Richie Bryant (1989) and Jimmy Ellis (1973).
“This is my first individual title here and it means so much to me,” said an emotional Carr. “I wanted to win this thing so badly before I left. To win the team and individual title it just feels like fate to me really. It may not look like it but I am just so happy right now. For all five of us to play the way we did in adverse conditions in front of the biggest crowds we have seen says a lot.”
Carr now gets set to play as an amateur in the Masters next month. He qualified for the major championship by finishing second last August in the U.S. Amateur Championship. In addition to going to Augusta National, Carr also qualified for the U.S. Open in June in Los Angeles.
Shot of the tournament
The applause for Carr’s final putt was actually the second loudest roar heard on the 18th green.
Fellow senior Wilson Andress may have had the shot of the weekend. Andress hit his second shot in the left side bunker. His third shot actually hit a spectator and rolled back into the bunker. All that did was set up the drama for his fourth shot, which ran up the hill on the green and fell into the hole for a birdie.
“I will never forget that shot as long as I live,” Andress said. “When I hit my third shot, I saw it going toward the girl and I couldn’t even watch it. It hit her and fell back into the sand. At that point I’m just playing for a bogey. I changed to a 60-degree club and tried to run it up close and then I started hearing people say go in. When it fell in the sound of the crowd cheering was amazing.”
“If that happens at most tournaments you probably have my parents and teammates cheering,” Andress added. “To do it at the Schenkel with about 200 or more people there screaming is a sound I’ll never forget either.”
The fact that the Schenkel Invitational is unique in the amount of support it receives from the community is something the Eagle players will miss as much as anything.
“I just want to say thank you to the community for supporting us and the Schenkel for all the years I have been here,” said senior Mason Williams. “I was walking off the green and someone said thank you to me. That is when it I really thought about it and I’m so glad I could give something back to this community who has supported us all this time. This is such a special place and you just don’t see this at other college golf tournaments. I am forever indebted to this place.”
“I wish our recruits could come here for the week of the Schenkel,” Carr said. “This is the best recruiting tool we have. This is truly unlike any other college golf tournament in the country. I just hope things like this make other guys want to come to Georgia Southern and play.”
The Schenkel was Carr's fourth career win, his 13th top-five finish and the 26th top-10 finish of his career.
On Sunday, he birdied two of his first four holes to start the day but ran into trouble on 10, when he hit his tee shot out of bounds and wound up with a triple bogey.
The fifth-year senior promptly birdied the next two holes to climb back into a tie for first, ran off five straight pars and then birdied 18 for the win.
Mason Williams (T5), Wilson Andress (T7) and Parker Claxton (T7) joined Carr in the top-10, and Hogan Ingram tied for 16th, giving all five Eagles in the lineup this week a top-20 finish. Claxton and Williams each rolled in five birdies Sunday and posted a 70 to lead the team. Andress and Carr each shot 72.