The Stetson University men’s golf team will continue its stretch of playing four tournaments in four weeks when they travel to Charleston, SC, for the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic.
The tournament, which will be played on the Jack Nicklaus designed Turtle Point Golf Course on Kiawah Island, will feature the largest tournament field any Stetson team has competed against in more than a decade. The 26 teams scheduled to compete include members of the Southeastern Conference (South Carolina), Big Ten (Wisconsin), Big East (St. John’s, Connecticut and Marquette) and Mountain West (Boise State).
Four of the teams in the field are ranked among the top 100 teams in the nation: South Carolina (63), College of Charleston (82), Jacksonville State (87) and Winthrop (90).
The Hatters will also get their first look at Atlantic Sun Conference foe USC Upstate.
“This is a big tournament and it is very nice,” Hatters coach Bob Weickel said. “It is a nice course and several of the holes parallel the ocean. You can expect wind, even on a nice day. It is a strong Division I field with a lot of teams from conferences like us.
“This has always been a big tournament and is usually very competitive.”
The tournament will be played over three days starting on Sunday. The Hatters will be paired with Presbyterian and Western Kentucky each of the first two days, with tee times on Sunday starting at 9:30 a.m. and starting on Monday for the second round at 12:50 p.m.
The final round of play on the par 71, 7,011-yard layout will be a shotgun start on Tuesday with the teams paired according to the standings after the opening rounds.
The Hatters will make one change to the starting lineup for the tournament, with freshman Brian Kehoe (Katonah, NY) slated to replace sophomore Jose Rosales Cruz (Queretaro, Mexico) to make his collegiate debut.
He will join with fellow freshmen Dustin Dingus (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and Andrew Peterson (Andover, Minn.) along with sophomore Matt Taylor (Naples, Fla.) and junior Tyler White (Palm Harbor, Fla.).
“Those are the guys who are playing the best right now,” Weickel said. “It has worked out where we have been able to get a different guy in that fifth spot.”
The one spot that appears to be under control right now is the No. 1 position, which Dingus has held for a couple of weeks.
“He is a good player,” Weickel said. “He was recommended by a former player of mine, Doug Lesser, who is the tournament director at Inverness. Doug recommended him and we followed up and worked on him. He was being recruited by a number of other schools, but he liked the idea of coming to Stetson.
“Dustin is a smart kid and has good savvy on the course. He has a lot of experience because his dad (Richard Dingus) is a PGA pro.”
Because of the size of the field, an all-tournament team will be named, consisting of the top 10 finishers. The top three teams and top three individuals will also receive hardware.
In the 13-year history of this event, there have been 10 different winning schools. The only repeat champions have been the hometown teams from the College of Charleston (two titles) and Charleston Southern (three titles). Other past champions have included North Florida (1999), Alabama (2000), Kentucky (2003), Jacksonville (2006), Indiana (2010) and last years’ champion Campbell, which will return to defend its title.
This will be the fifth time the event has been played at Turtle Point, with the four champions on the course averaging better than 10 over par for the event. The lowest winning individual score for the facility was a nine under par score over two rounds by Aron Price of Georgia Southern in 2003.
The Hatters will travel to Charleston on Friday and play a practice round on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. before starting play on Sunday morning.
Live scoring for the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic will be available for all three days of play through Golfstat.com.
Following the event in South Carolina, the Hatters will close their fall season on Nov. 5-6 at Victoria Hills Golf Club when they host the Stetson Invitational.