The Georgia Southern golf team achieved its first goal for the 35th annual Schenkel Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club, carding a good round on Friday to put itself in contention.
On Saturday, the Eagles came back even stronger and surged into the lead.
Four Eagles posted under-par rounds, two — Haydon Anderson and Will Evans — recorded a hole-in-one, and Georgia Southern posted at team score of 12-under on the day to put them at 14-under for the tournament and four shots clear of second-place Alabama-Birmingham.
“We had a feeling at the beginning of the day that scores might be low,” GSU coach Larry Mays said. “It was a beautiful day in Statesboro and the course is in perfect shape. I figured we’d have to shoot more than just a couple under-par to stay in contention.”
Senior Haydon Anderson shot a 67 to lead the way.
Anderson birdied Nos. 3, 4, and 5 before eagling the par-5 seventh hole.
Just before Anderson’s putt on No. 7 dropped, GSU’s Will Evans notched one of the highlights of the tournament as he aced the sixth hole.
Anderson recorded another birdie at the ninth and dropped yet another birdie on the par-5 12th.
After that, it was Anderson’s turn to steal some of the spotlight.
On the par-3 13th hole, Anderson launched his drive toward the green. His ball took a fortuitous bounce, then made a beeline toward the flagstick, rattling home for the Eagles’ second hole-in-one of the day.
“It couldn’t be better having our two seniors get a hole-in-one.” Mays said.
Mays also remembered Thomas Sharkey, a GSU golfer who passed away in 2011 and who would have been a senior this season.
“There was definitely someone looking down on our guys today.”
Following the heroics of Anderson and Evans, the rest of the Eagles continued to charge.
Georgia Southern began the day one stroke behind UAB. Matched up with the Blazers on Saturday, the Eagles consistently outplayed their competition in each grouping.
Charlie Martin failed to shoot par or better on just one hole. He also rattled off six birdies, carding a 32 on the back nine to tally a 68 on the day.
For the second straight day, Scott Wolfes finished strong.
A chip-in for the GSU junior on No. 17 was followed up by a birdie on the par-5 18th to help the Eagles extend their lead over the rest of the field.
UAB now trails Georgia Southern by four strokes. The Blazers will play alongside the Eagles and College of Charleston (3rd, 9-under) in today’s final round.
While the leaders usually fill out the back of the tee time schedule on Sunday, the forecast for inclement weather will put a twist on today’s proceedings.
In an effort to beat oncoming rain, a shotgun start will put all players on the course at 8:30 a.m.
Evans and Anderson will begin their day on the first hole while Martin and Wolfes start on No. 2. Matt Mierzejewski will round out the Eagles’ lineup, starting on the third hole.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.