Best in the country set to tee it up at the JU Invitational
On Jan. 31, some of the top men’s golf teams in the country will descend upon the PLAYERS Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass for the 2011 JU Invitational hosted by Mark McCumber.

JU will host the 15-team event that features nine teams ranked in the top 100 and six in the top 50, including defending champion East Tennessee State, the top-ranked team in the country from the fall in Florida, along with UNF, Wake Forest and Clemson highlighting the field.

“We’re excited about getting our spring season started with our home event against a strong field,” JU head coach Mike Blackburn said. “We had a tremendous competition last year and we expect another great event this year.”

Last year, ETSU used the win to jump start a strong spring season that eventually finished with the Atlantic Sun Conference title and a berth in the NCAA Regionals. Wake Forest’s Brendan Gielow won the individual competition at two-over par for the 54-hole event, winning by one shot.

Sitting in third place after the first round, the Bucs posted the low round of the tournament in the second with a three-over par 291 to trail Clemson by a shot entering the final round. ETSU carded an 11-over par, 299, in the final round to top Wake Forest by seven and Clemson by eight shots.

Gielow recovered from a four-over par 76 in the opening round with a three-under par 69 in the second round to take the lead at one-over par. His bogey on the 18th hole gave him a one-over par 73 in the final round to top Charleston Southern’s Kelvin Day by a shot.

Jacksonville comes into the event after winning its first tournament in four years, finishing the fall by rallying to win the Hummingbird Intercollegiate. The Dolphins posted a five-under par final round to rally past Vanderbilt and Kentucky to claim the title.

That experience will serve the Dolphins well against a field loaded with postseason expectations.

Florida, Wake Forest, Clemson, ETSU and UNF all made appearances in the NCAA Regionals last season. Liberty and East Carolina are in the mix for a spot after a strong fall campaign with Jacksonville State looking to be an early favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference.

The tournament begins with the annual college-am event on Sunday, with a few spots still available for those wanting to play the PLAYERS Stadium Course with the top teams in the country. The first two rounds are set for Monday, Jan. 31, with the final round to tee off on Tuesday, Feb. 1.