Men's Golf Faces Challenging Field at Isleworth Collegiate Invitational

Oct. 24, 2009

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. --  After posting its first top-five finish of the year at the Firestone Invitational two weeks ago, the Kentucky men's golf team looks to card a top score against the nation's best teams at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational Sunday and Monday in Windermere, Fla.

"Isleworth is the best field in college golf on a great course," said Kentucky men's golf coach Brian Craig. "We are due for a good event. Hopefully, this will be the week that we rise to the challenge and play like we are capable."

Kentucky will be led by junior Brian Belden, who didn't play in the Firestone Invitational due to family reasons. Belden has been Kentucky's best golfer in the young season. In two tournaments this year, the native of Emmaus, Pa., has a team-low season stroke average of 71.83. His best finish of the year came at the Gary Koch Intercollegiate where the junior finished in a tie for 14th. At the Intercollegiate, Belden tied his career-low score of 69, posting back-to-back 69s in the first and second round.

Senior Ben Fuqua, who was the Wildcats best finisher in the Isleworth Collegiate last season, returns to the tournament this season fresh off his top-five finish at Firestone earlier this month. Fuqua finished tied for 28th in the 2008 Isleworth Collegiate Invitational. This will be the second time the senior has played in the tournament.

Senior Jordan Blann, freshman Joseph Barr and junior James Kania make up the rest of the Kentucky rotation. This is the second time that Blann will play in the Invitational after he finished in the top 60 last year. Barr, who finished tied for fifth as an individual at the Firestone Invitational two weeks ago, will be making his first appearance in the Kentucky rotation Sunday. Barr played great golf at Firestone, posting the best final round score of the day while gathering four birdies on the final 18 holes. Kania, who was just named the Golf Association of Philadelphia's William Hyndman, III Player of the Year, has played in every tournament so far this season for the Wildcats.

Kentucky will face a tough field at the tournament this weekend, facing the six best golf teams in the country according to Golfweek. The Wildcats will face 11 schools ranked in Golfweek's top-25. The tournament field includes, No. 16 Alabama, No. 2 Arizona State, UCF, No. 25 Clemson, East Tennessee State University, No. 11 Florida, Georgia, No. 3 Illinois, No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 14 South Carolina, No. 6 Stanford, No. 5 TCU, No. 22 Texas Tech and No. 4 Washington.

This will be the Wildcats sixth consecutive Isleworth Collegiate Invitational appearance. Kentucky's best finish came in 2006-07 when UK finished seventh. The 54-hole tournament begins on Sunday with 18 holes, followed by 18 holes on Monday. The third and final round will be played Tuesday.