By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
It's Schenkel time
GSU hosts premier golf tournament this weekend
bw gsu golf 3 col
GSU junior Drew Lethem and the Georgia Southern Eagles host 18 of the best teams in the country this weekend at Forest Heights Country Club. - photo by Georgia Southern AMR
    Georgia Southern freshman Logan Blondell doesn’t have to wait any longer to experience the reputable and somewhat mystical Schenkel E-Z-GO Invitational.
    Once again, collegiate golf’s elite have flocked to Statesboro for this weekend’s the annual tournament, one of the most prestigious in the country and named after the late legendary sports broadcaster Chris Schenkel.
    “You hear so much all year about the week of the Schenkel, how much the course changes and how the whole town gets behind the tournament,” Blondell said. “I’m just excited to see what actually happens and how it goes.”
    This year’s field includes second-ranked Alabama and eighth-ranked Tennessee along with Auburn (11), Florida (12), Michigan State (15), South Carolina (20), North Carolina (23), Alabama-Birmingham (29), North Carolina State (38), Augusta State (44), North Florida (46), Louisiana State (48), Kentucky (60), Minnesota (62), Notre Dame (72), host Georgia Southern (98), New Mexico (108) and Boston College (187).
     Defending champion Georgia isn’t playing this year, while UAB, Boston College, North Florida and Notre Dame are all making first appearances.
    “We are really excited,” Eagle coach Larry Mays said. “The tradition that’s involved with the Schenkel E-Z-GO Invitational is huge. It’s been one of the best golf tournaments for close to 30 years. We had a (10-year) hiatus there in the 1990s that really hurt the program. (Bringing) the tournament back has helped the program get back on its feet, and it’s definitely a big part of what our program is all about.”
    For the first time since the Schenkel was reinstated in the late 1990’s, the tournament will be a three-day event. Mays said the new setup helps everyone relax rather than trying to squeeze three rounds into two days. A break between rounds can also be beneficial for a team looking to turn things around after a bad start.
    “This is going to be much more enjoyable for the players,” Mays said. “The players get to play one round a day and not necessarily rush around. It’s just a lot better.”
    Top individuals in this year’s field include: Michael Thompson (Alabama, ranked No. 2 in the country by Golfweek), Ryan Brehm (Michigan State, 4), Kevin O'Connell (North Carolina, 15), Clayton Rask (Minnesota, 20), Jay Moseley (Auburn, 21), Matthew Swan (Alabama, 24), Billy Horschel (Florida, 28), Matt Hill (North Carolina State, 29), Jake Amos (Augusta State, 31), Matt Hughes (Alabama, 33), Mark Harrell (Alabama, 36), Chris Paisley (Tennessee, 38), Tyler Brown (Florida, 39), Manuel Villegas (Florida, 41) and Mark Anderson (South Carolina, 46).
    “These are the kids you are going to see five or ten years down the road on the PGA Tour, so you can get a sneak peak of them here this weekend,” Mays said.
    The Eagles have had an up-and-down season and are hoping to find some stability on their home course this weekend. GSU has never won the Schenkel but has placed in the top five 13 times including a second-place finishes in 1977 and 2001.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.