JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the Jacksonville University men's golf team tees off for its 2018-19 schedule, it will compete in five events that were not on the docket the previous season. After leading the Dolphins to back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances in 2017 & 18, Head Coach Mike Blackburn announced a challenging slate of competition for the coming season Tuesday afternoon.
"As we continue to try and compete at a high level, it's important to keep top tier events in the schedule," Blackburn said. "We're competing against top-level competition along the way, and if you play at a high level your rankings will reflect it. That's what drives our ideas in terms of scheduling."
For the first time in at least 25 seasons, the team begins the year in the month of August with a dual meet. The Dolphins will head to Chateau Elon, the site of the ASUN Conference Championship, for a dual match with league foe Lipscomb on Aug. 30.
Fall action picks back up in mid-September, when the team travels to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to compete in the GolfWeek Conference Challenge for the first time ever, Sept. 16-18.
"A new event for us, the GolfWeek Conference Challenge pins 16 teams, each from a different conference, up against each other, so we feel honored to be invited," Blackburn noted.
Fall competition concludes with a pair of tournaments, beginning with the Wolfpack Intercollegiate in Raleigh, North Carolina Oct. 6-7, hosted by ACC competitor North Carolina State. The team then makes its sixth straight appearance at the Quail Valley Intercollegiate in Vero Beach, Fla. from Oct. 14-16, ending play in 2018.
Competition picks back up on Jan. 28, 2019, with a 36-hole match play event at Jacksonville's Pablo Creek Golf Course against cross-town rival North Florida. Playing in the dual for the first time last year, the Dolphins defeated the Ospreys in an event consisting of best ball, foursome and singles matches.
The team stays in the River City to begin spring tournament action, hosting the 11th annual Sea Best Invitational at the Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass Feb. 4-5.
The following two weekends will be filled with familiar competition, as the 'Phins head to Gainesville for the Gator Invitational Feb. 16-17, and to Tallahassee for the Seminole Intercollegiate Feb. 23-24. Led by top performances by freshman Michael Sakane and senior Raul Pereda, JU placed second at last year's Florida State-hosted tournament, and saw both players earn ASUN Player of the Week honors.
JU begins the month of March with a new competition on the schedule, taking part in the ECU Intercollegiate in Greenville, N.C. Mar. 4-5, hosted by East Carolina University.
The team ends the month and begins April at The John Hayt Collegiate Invitational on Mar. 31-April 1 across town, playing in the UNF-hosted tournament for the ninth consecutive year. Regular season tournament play concludes April 15-16 at the Shoal Creek Invitational, hosted by Auburn University in Birmingham, Ala.
The 'Phins take part in the quest for a fourth conference title at the 2019 ASUN Championship, held April 21-23 at Chateau Elon in Braselton, Ga. The 2019 NCAA Men's Golf Regionals are May 12-15 at six nationally-selected sites for teams that qualify.
After breaking on to the national stage two seasons ago with the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Championships, JU was positioned near the top of the pack for much of the 2017-18 campaign. The squad achieved a season-best ranking of No. 41 in the GolfStat Weekly Collegiate Golf Rankings, which ties for the highest team ranking in school history.
En-route to an at-large bid to the 2018 Columbus Regional, the team placed a record number of players on ASUN All-Conference teams, with five 'Phins earning spots on either the First, Second or All-Freshman Teams, Sakane capturing ASUN Freshman of the Year and Sam Uhland earning a place on the All-Academic squad. Sakane and Pereda went on to win spots on the ASUN All-Tournament Team, and Pereda was named to the PING All-Southeast Region Team to conclude the year.
Click here to view the full 2018-19 schedule.