Men's Golf Returns to Action at the Gen. Hackler Championship

March 7, 2009

MURRELLS INLET, S.C. -- Riding two top-10 performances to start the spring, the Kentucky men's golf team heads to South Carolina for its inaugural outing in the seventh annual General Jim Hackler Championship hosted by Coastal Carolina, held Sunday-Monday at the TPC Myrtle Beach Course.

UK will call upon seniors Andy Winings and Ben Fuqua to lead the team on its second TPC course this season, traveling to Murrells Inlet, S.C. to play the 6,950-yard, par-72 course.

Kentucky Head Coach Brian Craig has relied upon a consistent starting five throughout the spring season. In addition to Winnings and Fuqua, junior Jordan Blann, sophomore James Kania and freshman Mads Kristensen, round out the starting lineup for the Wildcats. Winings, a native of Brownsburg, Ind., leads the team with a 73.16 stroke average.

The 54-hole tournament will be played over two days starting Sunday morning with a 7:45 EDT shotgun start for the first 36 holes. UK will return to the TPC Myrtle Beach course Monday morning for the final round with a 8:30 shotgun start.

The elite 14-team field is no stranger to success as each squad reached the 2008 NCAA Regionals, with five advancing to the NCAA Championship, including defending national champion UCLA. The tournament has two Big 10 teams, four ACC programs and Southeastern Conference foe, South Carolina.

Ten programs ranked in Golfweek's top-50 will test the waters against UK in Myrtle Beach, considered by some the golf capital of the United States. The top-ranked teams include No. 8 Illinois, No. 10 South Carolina, No. 22 UCLA, No. 27 East Tennessee State, No. 32 Lamar, No. 34 Wake Forest, No. 35 N.C. State, No. 36 Duke, No. 38 Pepperdine, No. 41 Augusta State and No. 50 CCU. Also, Ohio State and North Carolina will join Kentucky among the field.

The tournament also features nine of the top 50 players in the country according to Golfweek's Sagarin Performance Index. They include No. 14 Scott Langley of Illinois, No. 15 Matt Hill of N.C. State, No. 17 Gregor Main of UCLA, No. 28 Andrew Puttnam of Pepperdine, No. 30 Zack Byrd of CCU, No. 33 Vaughn Snyder of Ohio State, No. 43 Leroux Ferriera of Lamar, No. 45 Henrik Norlander of Augusta State and No. 46 Philip Francis of UCLA. Kentucky's Winings is currently ranked as the 70th best collegiate player in the nation.

In the eight years with Coach Craig at the helm, Kentucky has played in a South Carolina tournament in all but one year. The Wildcats have won two Palmetto State tournaments in the Craig Era, the first coming in September 2003 at the rain shortened Kiawah Island Invite, then again in March 2005, at the Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate.