Five PBC Men’s Golf Teams Ranked in Preseason Top 25
NEW YORK, NY – Five Peach Belt Conference men’s golf teams have been ranked in the national top 25 as the preseason Golf World/Nike poll was released by the Golf Coaches Association of America. Columbus State received the highest rank at #13 while Georgia College is 14th. USC Aiken begins the year #18 with Armstrong Atlantic State #19 and Flagler #23. UNC Pembroke just missed the top 25, receiving the 26th-most votes in the poll while Lander, Georgia Southwestern and North Georgia also received votes.
Once again, the Peach Belt Conference has more teams ranked in the top 25 than any other conference in the nation. The five PBC schools named in the poll outdistances the Sunshine State Conference and the California Collegiate Athletic Association who both had four teams ranked.
Columbus State reached the 2011 NCAA National Championships where they finished 10th. The Cougars won their own AFLAC/Cougar Invitational last season and had three other top-three finishes. The 2011-12 Cougars will be led by senior Rourke van der Spuy, who was third in the PBC in stroke average at 73.0. Also returning is senior Stephen Swanepoel who was eighth in the league with a 73.7. CSU will have five seniors on their roster this season along with junior Johan Swanepoel and freshman Jacob Tickal.
Georgia College missed making the national championships by one place as they finished sixth at the NCAA Southeast Regionals last season. The Bobcats won both the Springhill Invitational and the First Federal Southeastern Collegiate and had four other top-three results. For 2011-12 GC returns sophomore Gavin Harper who was named second-team All-Conference as a freshman and was sixth in the PBC with a 73.5 stroke average. Also back is junior Patrick Garrett who won the First Federal and had two other top-threes.
USC Aiken returns their top five scorers from last year’s team that finished fifth at the PBC Championships and reached the NCAA Southeast Regionals for the 19th time in the last 20 years. Overall the Pacers had four top-five finishes last season including third place at the Argonaut Invtiational. Hayden Letien was named second-team All-Conference after leading the squad and finishing 12th in the league with a 73.9 stroke average. Gaines Milliner, Matt Atkins, Mark Dickson and Kyle Godsman also return for 2011-12.
Armstrong advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2010-11 for the 10th straight season and the Pirates have been in every regional save one since reinstating the sport in 2000-01. The Pirates return seven players from last season's squad, including All-Peach Belt Conference senior Matt Motes.
Flagler won the Peach Belt Conference Tournament last year, besting second-place UNC Pembroke by 16 strokes. The Saints went on to finish eighth in the NCAA South/Southeast Regional, easily the toughest regional in the country. Flagler returns PBC Tournament medalist Joel Dahlenburg. He edged out teammate Chris Bray and Georgia College’s Billy Shida by three strokes. Dahlenburg finished in a tie for ninth for the best average score, 73.8, in the conference.
The 2011-12 season gets underway on Monday, Sept. 5, with the Kiawah Island Intercollegiate, hosted by USC Aiken. Five PBC teams will compete in that event with the majority of the other schools beginning their seasons on Sept. 17.
To see the complete poll, please click here.