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Eagles set to tee it up at 43rd Schenkel
GS Golf
Georgia Southern head golf coach Carter Collins pays homage to the Statesboro community following his team's victory at the 2022 Schenkel Invitational. Collins and the Eagles look to defend their title this week. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

The 43rd annual Schenkel Invitational tees off Friday morning at Forest Heights Country Club. One of the premiere collegiate golf tournaments in the country will see the host team the No. 23 ranked Georgia Southern Eagles will be trying to defend their title against a strong field with nine teams currently ranked in the top 100 of the nation. 

“This is a new year and we don’t feel any pressure to win the tournament,” said coach Carter Collins. “We focus on what we can control and that is preparing our best and playing our hardest. We feel if we do those things everything outside of that goes away and we can just focus on what we want to, and that is a really good feeling.” 

The Eagles have plenty of seniors teeing it up for their final Schenkel and wanting to make the most of their last time playing before the Statesboro crowd. 

“It is so special because it is one of the best events in college golf and it is right here in our backyard,” said Eagle senior Collin Bowles. “The way the community of Statesboro supports this event is like no where else. I am sure we will have another big crowd and it is fun to play in front of them.”

“What the community does is just great,” said senior Wilson Andress. “I can’t wait to be able to come back in the future and just have a chance to soak it all in as a fan. Being the last one for me is very emotional and hopefully we can end it the right way.” 

This group of seniors includes some sixth-year players who have made quite an impact on coach Collins. 

“There is definitely some added nostalgia to this one,” Collins said. “I have known some of these guys for seven or eight years when you throw in the recruiting process. I am very happy they stuck with Georgia Southern for these five years and it is going to be cool to see them out there. Regardless this is going to be a new story in the Schenkel book and I am excited for the story they will tell, as well as their teammates.” 

While many of the seniors have played in multiple Schenkel events, freshman Parker Claxton will be participating for the first time. With that said Claxton may have the upper hand in the amount of times he has actually played FHCC as he played his high school golf at Pinewood and has great course knowledge. 

“I have played here a lot some I am familiar with the course and feel pretty comfortable playing here,” said Claxton. “This will be a little bit different though with the way they set it up and the fact that it is a big tournament with a lot of good teams. I’m sure I will have some friends and family out here and hopefully I can feed off that and do well.” 

Individually, seven competitors are ranked in Golfstat's top-100 in Georgia Southern’s Mason Williams (80) and Ben Carr (85), North Florida's Nick Gabrelcik (8) and Robbie Higgins (79), Mississippi State's Garrett Endicott (70), Middle Tennessee's Owen Stamper (78) and Notre Dame's Palmer Jackson (89). Williams and Carr finished second and third, respectively, last year, and Jackson tied for ninth.

Georgia Southern is the only team in this year's field that has won the event. The Eagles have won their home tournament three times and have won the event or earned runner-up honors each of the last five times it was contested (2020 was canceled because of COVID). Kentucky has eight top-5 finishes, UAB has four, Mississippi State and North Florida have three and UCF has two. Notre Dame took third in 2019 and second last year while FGCU finished fourth in 2021.

Kentucky makes its 23rd appearance, the most of any team in the field except for the host Eagles, and the Wildcats have played in the last 16. Mississippi State is in the field for the 12th time, while North Florida and UAB are making their 11th appearance. Campbell (13th overall), Middle Tennessee (9th) and FGCU are playing in their third consecutive Schenkel. Notre Dame makes its 11th appearance, UCF makes its fourth appearance and Army plays in its third Schenkel. Liberty is making its first appearance, while West Virginia and Wisconsin are in the field for the second straight season. 

The tournament tees off Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. and concludes Sunday and is fee to the public.