Coastal golf opens season Monday at TPC Sawgrass

 The Coastal Carolina men’s golf team will open the 2012 portion of its schedule Jan. 30-31 at Jacksonville University’s Sea Best Invitational, played at the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass – home of the notorious island green on the par-3, 17th hole.

The field will play 36 holes on Monday and conclude the two-event with 18 holes Tuesday. The 13-team field consists of Coastal, Charleston Southern, East Carolina, East Tennessee State, Florida, Florida Golf Coast, Georgia State, Jacksonville, Jacksonville State, Liberty, Mercer, Old Dominion and UNF. Of the teams competing, UNF is ranked seventh in the Golfworld/Nike Golf coaches’ poll, while Florida and Liberty are receiving votes.

After an intensive qualifying process, the Chanticleers will send senior Charlie Winegardner, junior Sebastian Soderberg, sophomore Roberto Ballesteros, sophomore Kevin Vanden Heuvel and freshman Andrew Dorn.

“We are young but talented,” said Director of Golf Allen Terrell. “These guys are pushing each other and I think you will see the results of that daily competition this spring. The freshmen had four events in the fall to learn what collegiate golf is all about and have taken advantage of our great weather this January to improve their games.

“This is the earliest we have ever competed in the spring season as I was looking to spread out the competitions. I also think playing so early gave some extra motivation for the guys to work hard over the break. I feel good about our team but we are not going to be our best in January, nor do you want to be. However, you do want to create some momentum, gain confidence and set the stage for a positive second half of the season so we can be our best at season’s end.”

Soderberg was Coastal’s top performer in the fall, averaging 73.33 strokes per round and posting five rounds of par or better scores. Winegardner may be playing the best golf for the Chanticleers at this point. He won the annual Black and Teal title and won the first two stages of qualifying heading into the Sea Best Invitational. Ballesteros and Vanden Heuval made the travel squad for their play in the qualifying rounds, while Dorn needed and extra 18 holes – winning an 18-hole playoff – to make the trip.

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