The Murray State men’s golf team competes at the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference Championship at The Shoals Golf Club in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Monday through Wednesday.
The Fighting Joe course at The Shoals will host the OVC event for the fifth time and for a fourth straight season. The winner advances to the NCAA Tournament to represent the OVC and this year’s event finds the Racers trying for their first title since 2010.
Murray State Lineup
Avery Edwards, Fr., Paducah, Ky.: Edwards has turned in a pair of top-10 finishes with a 10th place showing (Oct. 4) at the Skyhawk Classic and eighth place (Nov. 1) at the Samford Intercollegiate in Birmingham, Alabama. His low score of the season was a 68 (Sept. 18) at the EKU Intercollegiate. Edwards has a scoring average of 75.6
Austin Knight, Fr., Hopkinsville, Ky.: Ranked 17th in the league with a 74.4 scoring average, Knight has two top-5 finishes this season. He had a 2-under-par total (March 26) at the FAU event in Palm Beach Gardens which led to a third place finish and he added a fourth place finish last October at Paris Landing in the UTM Skyhawk Classic. His low round of the season was a 70 in the final round of the MSU Invitational (Sept. 13). He leads the team with 11 rounds of par or better and is MSU’s best chance at landing a spot on the All-OVC team.
Gabe Wheeler, So., Sikeston, Mo.: Wheeler is second on the team with a 75.0 average and had a best finish of 17th place (March 14) at the Grover Page Classic. His low round of the season was a 70 (Feb. 26) at the Loyola Intercollegiate in Goodyear, Arizona.
Matthew Winder, Fr., Murray, Ky.: Winder enters the OVC with a pair of top-10 finishes in the last four events. He placed sixth at the TSU Big Blue Intercollegiate (April 14) and finished sixth (March 14) at the Grover Page Classic in Jackson, Tennessee. His low round of the season was a 70 at the MSU Invitational (Sept. 12). Winder has a scoring average of 75.6.
Matthew Zakutney, Sr., Paducah, Ky.: With a scoring average of 75.5, Zakutney is MSU’s only senior. He comes into the OVC event with momentum after he shot a career-low 68 for the Racers at the Arkansas State event (April 4) in Jonesboro, which led to a second place finish. He also had a seventh place finish last October at the Samford event in Birmingham, Alabama.
About The Shoals
Part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in state of Alabama, The Shoals has two 18-hole championship courses and lies between the Wheeler and Wilson dams on the Tennessee River in the Florence area. Wheeler Dam is named in honor of General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Wheeler – the only Confederate General to attain the same rank later in the United States Army. And thus, the Fighting Joe course is named in his honor.
The Fighting Joe course at The Shoals was the first Trail course to break 8,000 yards. Travel & Leisure Golf named Fighting Joe one of the top new courses in 2004. The second course, the Schoolmaster (named for President Woodrow Wilson who was responsible for getting Wilson Dam built and was also known as “The Schoolmaster” of politics), opened in the Summer of 2005.
MSU Golf Tradition
Beginning with Coach Buddy Hewitt’s run of 40-years as the general of MSU Golf, the Racers have a proud history of individual success that surpasses its team success. MSU has produced one OVC team title (2010) for Head Coach Eddie Hunt who took over for Hewitt in 2001 and four overall (1971, 1987, 1991, 2010). However, the Racers have produced 11 individual champions with the Newcomb brothers (Nick and Patrick) winning the last three in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
Murray State’s individual champions include: Bill Graham (1962, 1963), Ron Acree (1965), Chris Pigott (1971), Kevin Klier (1977), Chris Carlson (1987), Adam Grogan (1996), Brandon Henson (2001), Nick Newcomb (2008, 2010) and Patrick Newcomb (2013).
The 11 teams in the field will play practice rounds on Sunday.
All players will begin from the first tee in all three days of the competition. The first group off each day will be at 8 a.m. The Racers will have their first tee time on Monday at 9:40 p.m.
For the OVC Championship, the Fighting Joe Course at The Shoals will play to a par-72 (36-36) and to a length of 7,258 yards.
After Monday’s first round, the OVC teams get together at The Shoals Clubhouse for the annual awards banquet when All-OVC honors will be announced.
In 2016, the Racers carded a score of 884 and finished in a tie for fifth place with Belmont. UT Martin was the winner as they topped Morehead State by a stroke in the closest OVC Men’s Golf Championship in Conference history Six teams were within five shots.
The Racers have produced a top-5 finisher in 11 of the last 14 years. Preston French was MSU’s top finisher in 2016 with a spot in ninth place.
Racer OVC Tournament Facts & Records
First Appearance: 1959 (First year of Golf at MSU, OVC first season was 1949)
Championships: 4 (1971, 1987, 1991, 2010)
First Championship: 1971
Last Championship: 2010
Medalist Winners: 11 among nine players
First Medalist: Bill Graham (1962)
Last Medalist: Patrick Newcomb (2013)
Low Team Single Round (Since 1978): 284 (2010, 2015)
High Team Single Round (Since 1978): 325 (1988)
*Low Individual Single Round: 66, Cameron Carrico (2011, finished fourth)
*High Individual Single Round: 82, Kyle Shirley (2004, finished fourth)
Murray State Athletics – Assistant AD – Media Relations