The Valdosta Daily Times
Some of the best golf teams at the Division II level will embark on Valdosta’s Kinderlou Forest Golf Club today and Tuesday as Valdosta State hosts the First Federal Southeastern Collegiate.
Twelve of the top 28 golf teams, including Valdosta State, will participate in this week’s event, including five that are ranked inside the top 10.
Ranked No. 28, Valdosta State will be joined by second-ranked Barry, fourth-ranked North Alabama (the tournament’s reigning champion), fifth-ranked Florida Southern, eighth-ranked Columbus State and 10th-ranked Lynn.
No. 12 Georgia College and State (which won the event in 2011), No. 14 West Florida, No. 18 Rollins, No. 19 Georgia Southwestern, No. 20 Armstrong and No. 24 Florida Tech will also represent teams competing in the two-day event that are ranked higher than Valdosta State.
Flagler (No. 49), Eckerd (No. 65) and Delta State (No. 68) will also be in action.
“It will be very competitive,” Valdosta State head coach Jared Purvis said. “The wind is supposed to blow (Monday) so scores may not be as low as they were last year.”
The week’s tournament field is one of the toughest compiled at the Division II level, and is a preview for the level of play teams will encounter in the Super Regional in May.
“All the teams, the majority of them, will be in the Super Regional,” Purvis said. “We get a top field every year. A few years ago when we won it (2010), 11 of the top 12 teams were in the field.”
One major reason teams keep coming back for VSU’s annual event is the course. The First Federal Southeastern is played at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club, which also hosts the Web.com Tour’s South Georgia Classic in April.
“The course is in great shape, as always, even with all the rain we’ve received lately,” Purvis said. “This is a lot of these teams’ favorite tournament. It is such a great golf course. Teams love it.”
Since the Blazers last won their own tournament in 2010, they haven’t had the best of finishes the last two years. They finished eighth in 2011 and 11th last year.
This year, the Blazers are playing much-improved golf and Purvis is confident in his team.
“We’ve matured, definitely,” Purvis said. “It is definitely a more dedicated, harder working group. It is a different atmosphere. Last year we had too many off the course problems. This year has been very nice. We haven’t won a tournament yet, but we are capable of winning one. We just have to concentrate on golf.”
Purvis’ confidence in his team improved following last week’s third place finish at the Las Vegas Desert Classic, where the Blazers had to fight wind gusts of over 40 miles per hour.
“Probably half the field was good solid teams,” Purvis said. “It wasn’t the depth we have here. You had some mixture last week, some NAIA and Division III. The field wasn’t as good as it is going to be this week, but the way the guys performed last week in those conditions was good to see.”
West Florida won last week’s event in Las Vegas, its first victory of the season.
“We know we can win,” Purvis said. “But it is golf. You can only control what we can do. In golf, you can get to a tournament and play pretty darned good but another team might have all five guys play really good. That is just what happens. It isn’t the easiest sport to win. We’ve had some good consistent finishes.”
The tournament begins today at 9 a.m., with competitors playing 36 holes. The event continues Tuesday, with players teeing off based on Monday’s performances. The better finishers from Monday will tee off between 10:15-10:50 a.m. on Tuesday.
Players will be able to use carts on Monday, but will be forced to walk on Tuesday.
Admission to the event is free and spectators are able to walk the course.