PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. – Campbell provided the Golfweek Program Challenge with a dramatic reception last season.
The Camels shot 31 under to win the men’s title after a third-place showing on the women’s side and then defeated East Carolina in a sudden-death playoff to capture overall honors.
It was an odd yet remarkable ending, as the Camels and Pirates ended the 54-hole event tied with a cumulative score of 1,716. The teams then selected one male and one female player to compete in the alternate-shot playoff. The senior duo of Mitch Gray and Michelle Koh sealed the victory with par on the first hole: No. 18 at Caledonia Golf and Fish Club.
“We’re talking about some 1,700 shots,” said John Crooks, who has logged 20-plus years as the men’s and women’s head coach at Campbell. “That was extremely rare.”
While the fashion of victory may be hard to repeat, the Camels remain one of the favorites as they attempt to defend their title at the second-year event, which runs Sunday-Tuesday at True Blue Plantation and Caledonia.
And like last year, Campbell will begin its fall with a mix of young and veteran talent. The Camels, who started a combined four freshmen a year ago, have just one senior between the two teams. That senior is Teresa Urquizu, who will lead the women’s team. Junior Amanjyot Singh is expected to head the men’s squad.
“Good news is, we’re defending champions,” Crooks said. “But 30 percent of my team has never hit a golf ball in college. They’re eager and talented, but they’re going to have some nerves.
“I’m fortunate to have two leaders. They’re good players, good people and good motivators. It starts with them, and the others hopefully will follow suit.”
Campbell isn’t the only returning champion. Defending men’s medalist Tomasz Anderson of Jacksonville State is looking to equal his performance from a year ago, resulting in his first collegiate victory.
The sophomore shot 15 under last year and expects similar results this time around.
“I’d love a good finish here,” Anderson said. “I played a practice round (Saturday) and played really well. I felt really comfortable around the course and with the grain of the greens. All I have to do is go out there with no expectations and do the best that I can do.”
Among the 12-team field are Troy, Western Kentucky, Stetson, Boston College and James Madison. And with two courses capable of producing low scores, expect another competitive few days.
“The teams are strong, and the golf courses are immaculate,” Crooks said. “There are a lot of positives.”
• • •