Men's spring preview: Ohio Valley Conference
During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the 2014 spring season for each conference. Today, we look at the Ohio Valley Conference:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Austin Peay State
• Player to watch: Tomasz Anderson, Jacksonville State. The senior is No. 192 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, and his experience makes the Gamecocks a legitimate conference title contender.
• Freshman to watch: Pablo Torres, Jacksonville State. Torres is the highest-ranked newcomer (No. 620) in a conference lacking a lot of freshman talent.
• Conference championship: April 25-27, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, The Shoals, Muscle Shoals, Ala.
• Past champions (since 2009): Austin Peay State (2013), Jacksonville State (2011-12), Murray State (2010), Austin Peay State (2009)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
- Austin Peay State (91): The Governors boast arguably the deepest lineup in the conference, led by senior Anthony Bradley, who compiled team-bests in scoring average (72.1) and top 10s (four) during the fall. As a team, Austin Peay notched a victory at the Bearcat Invitational and four other top 5s.
- Jacksonville State (107): The Gamecocks are deep, as well, with a lineup that includes senior Tomasz Anderson, freshman Pablo Torres and juniors Franco Grillo and Zac Contris. Jacksonville State managed only one top 10 in four fall events, but it did play some tough competition (No. 125 in strength of schedule).
- Belmont (141): The Bruins opened the fall with a victory at the Derek Donenc Invitational and added another victory at the Austin Peay State Intercollegiate, finishing four shots ahead of Austin Peay and Eastern Kentucky. Sophomore Ashton Van Horne finished the fall with the conference’s best scoring average (71) and posted three top 5s while senior Ben Simpson had a 71.5 scoring average, too.
- Eastern Kentucky (162): Senior Garrett Hinton posted a 71.8 fall scoring average for the Colonels, who notched a pair of runner-up finishes and a third-place result in five fall events.
- Tennessee-Martin (163): A victory at the Wasioto Winds Fall Kickoff highlighted a fall season that also included three other top 5s. Tyler Guy’s 71.2 scoring average paced Tennessee-Martin during the fall.
- Tennessee Tech (178): Tennessee Tech didn’t finish better than fourth in five fall tournaments, although it didn’t finish worse than eighth, either. Mitch Thomas was third in the conference with a 71.4 scoring average to go along with two top 5s.
- Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (214): No player finished the fall with a scoring average better than 74.1, but SIU-Edwardsville did manage a runner-up finish at its home event, the Derek Donenc Invitational.
- Murray State (229): Murray State had three top 5s in six fall events, but also finished 10th or worse three times. Preston French and Jordan Smith were the only players on the team to post a sub-74 fall scoring average.
- Morehead State (255): After two finishes of seventh or better, Morehead State closed the fall with a 15th-place finish at the Bearcat and 14th-place showing at the Austin Peay State Intercollegiate.
- Eastern Illinois (265): Brady Welsh was the only player with a sub-75 scoring average on an Eastern Illinois squad that finished better than 10th only twice in five fall starts.
- Tennessee State (276): Andrew Warner and James Stepp were bright spots, but two fall finishes of 13th or worse in four events weren’t.