FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –
The No. 7 Arkansas University men’s golf team will open its 2013 fall campaign at a place where it has fond memories of when it defends its title at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational beginning on Friday at Olympia Fields Country Club (OFCC) North Course in Illinois.
The 15-team field that will take on the par 70, 7142-yard OFCC North Course features eight teams ranked in the Golf Word/Nike Golf preseason coaches’ poll, including five in the top 10. The Razorbacks will play alongside Baylor and Indiana during Friday’s opening round, going off No. 10 tee from 9-9:32 a.m. Live scoring is available through www.GolfStat.com or www.ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
“This weekend will give us a measure of where we stand right away,” said head coach Brad McMakin
, who has led the Razorbacks to 17 team titles over his first seven years. “Each tournament is important to get us prepared to reach our ultimate goal. This is the deepest and one of the most competitive groups I’ve ever had and they’ll be a lot of fun to watch.”
Led by McMakin, the Razorbacks are coming off a 10th place showing at the 2013 NCAA Championships, their third appearance in the NCAA Championships in the last five years. With four players returning from last year’s NCAA lineup, along with the addition of UNLV transfer Blake Biddle
and the return of 2012 SEC All-Freshman team selection Kolton Crawford
after a redshirt year, Arkansas earned a No. 7 ranking in the Golf World/Nike Golf preseason coaches’ poll and the No. 10 spot on the Golfweek Top 30 preseason countdown.
Senior Sebastian Cappelen
headlines three players in this weekend’s lineup that were part of last year’s team that won the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational. Named a Top 50 Player to Watch by Golf World in the preseason and one 16 players on that list playing in the tournament, Cappelen was last year’s leader at OFCC through two rounds before finishing a tie for second place. Cappelen, the reigning SEC Individual Champion, owns 14 career top 10s and is coming off a summer in which he represented Team Europe in the Palmer Cup for the third consecutive year.
Also returning from last year’s OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational title team are sophomores Nicolas Echavarria
and Taylor Moore
. Echavarria earned PING All-America honorable mention status in 2012-13, after finishing as the team’s low-man at the NCAA Championships where he tied for 13th place. Moore was in Arkansas’ starting five all 13 tournaments last year, posting six top 20s en route to being named the SEC Freshman of the Year.
New to the Razorback lineup but eyeing his 98th career collegiate round on Friday, Biddle adds 14 career top 10s over three years at UNLV. Biddle, the 2011 Mountain West Freshman of the Year and a PING All-West Region selection in 2012, will have one year of eligibility with Arkansas. Crawford utilized a redshirt in 2012-13, following a freshman season in which he turned in a counting score in 23 of 27 team rounds.
Through the team’s twitter account @RazorbackMGolf
and the department’s Instagram account @ArkRazorbacks, over 1,200 fans voted on the team’s first round uniform via social media. The Razorbacks will don red pants, while polo and a black Razorback belt during Friday’s round.
Lineup has a combined 300 rounds played over 103 tournaments … Cappelen, Echavarria and Moore were part of last year’s team title at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational, contributing seven scores, including three at par or lower … five-man lineup has a combined 33 top 10s and 130 par or lower rounds … marks the first time this five-man lineup has been used … four of five players have NCAA Regional experience.
Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational Field (Golf World/Nike Golf Preseason Ranking)
Florida State (13)
Oklahoma State (8)