The Stetson University men’s golf team will open play in the spring season this weekend at the Gary Freeman Invitational. The event will be played at the Halifax Plantation Golf Club and is hosted by Bethune-Cookman.
The Hatters will play a practice round on Saturday before competition begins with 36 holes of play on Sunday. The final 18 holes will be played on Monday, President’s Day.
Junior team captain Matt Taylor will lead the Hatters into the tournament. He will be joined by sophomores Dustin Dingus and David Torres as well as a trio of freshmen – Eliott Azoulay, Dirk Kuehler and Zach Stark.
“I think the boys are ready to start playing tournaments,” Stetson head coach Larry Watson said. “Practice tends to get boring. The are looking forward to another match with our friends from Bethune-Cookman.
The Hatters finished second to the Wildcats in the final event of the fall schedule, the Stetson CFSC Invitational. B-CU won that event by 19 shots over the Hatters. The Wildcats also got the best of Stetson at the Cobra Puma Invitational and the Donald Ross Intercollegiate in October.
Despite struggles against their cross-county rival, Watson said the Hatters had a productive fall.
“I was very proud of the team in the fall,” Watson said. “We only had one disappointing event, and that was in our first event. That showed the freshmen what Division I gold is all about.
“I think each of the players on our team has improved and the competition for a spot on the travel squad is very close.”
Stetson finished third at the Gary Freeman Invitational last year, falling three shots behind Bethune-Cookman for second place. Florida Atlantic won the event last year.
“The forecast calls for better weather than we had last year, so maybe that will result in some improved play,” Watson said. “This spring has been filled with an ever changing mix of weather. I know the boys are praying for warmer weather than what we had last year when it was very cold and windy. This year’s forecast is for mid 70’s and sunny. Maybe that will bring us some good scores.”
Dingus led the team during the fall season, posting a team-best 72.87 scoring average over 15 rounds at five events. Dingus tied for fifth at the Gary Freeman Invitational in 2013 with a score of eight over par 224.
“Dustin had a very good event here last year and we are hopeful that he and Matt Taylor can lead the three freshmen to a really good finish in the tournament,” Watson said.
Other teams scheduled to play in the tournament include Hampton University, Savannah State, Army, Florida A&M, Benedict College, Edward Waters, Palm Beach Atlantic and Embry Riddle.
The Hatters will follow their appearance at the Gary Freeman Invitational on March 1 by playing in the Georgia Regents Invitational in Augusta, Ga. That one-day event will be followed closely by the Harmony Preserve Intercollegiate March 2-4.
Live scoring from the Gary Freeman Invitational tournament will not be available.