JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 14, 2004) - The 2004 Southern Conference Men's Golf Championships are set to begin on Sunday, April 18 and run through Tuesday, April 20. The three-round, 54-hole event is scheduled to take place at the par 72, 7147-yard The Ridges Golf and Country Club in Jonesborough, Tenn., with East Tennessee State serving as the host institution.
Georgia Southern enters this weekend's tournament looking to defend its 2003 team title. Led by junior Aron Price, who is ranked number one individually in the conference and 18th nationally by Golfweek with a 71.3 stroke average, the Eagles are the top-rated team in the SoCon this season. Also returning from GSU's 2003 championship squad is Jon David Kennedy who, in that 2003 event, finished in a tie for fifth place with Price.
Furman seems poised to challenge GSU's supremacy, as the Paladins boast the second-best team scoring average in the conference and have two wins and one second place finish in their last three events. Furman also has two of the league's top eight individual players in Matt Davidson and Buddy Davis. Davis finished in a tie for ninth last season while Davidson's top SoCon performance was a 10th place finish in the 2001 event.
Just behind Furman in the team rankings is UNC Greensboro, the fifth place team at last season's championships. The Spartans are led by senior Andy Bare, who has claimed two individual tournament titles this spring and ranks third in the conference's individual stroke averages at 73.4.
Other top finishers from the 2003 Championships who are returning in 2004 include East Tennessee State's Chase Baldwin and Wofford's Daniel Sloan who tied for fifth with GSU's Price and Kennedy at a two-over par total of 218.
East Tennessee State has won 16 SoCon Men's Golf titles, yet this is the first time that they have played host to the event. Georgia Southern's victory in Statesboro last season marked the first time that a school had won on its home course in the 71-year history of the SoCon tournament.
Conference newcomer Elon is led by Ryan Loucks (73.5 average), while Steve Mayo (74.2) looks to lead Davidson's charge and Tucker Ervin (73.8) hopes to bring the College of Charleston its second conference title in three years.
The sixth-rated SoCon team, Chattanooga, has been led by Matt Brock (74.4) who finished 14th in 2003.
Western Carolina, Appalachian State, and The Citadel, the three schools who round out the SoCon rankings in 2004, will also look to make history this weekend. The Catamounts' top returnee is Tim Eckberg who had WCU's best finish last season. ASU returns last season's 20th place finisher, David Thomas, while The Citadel's Jeff Spencer and Matt Frye, both top 20 finishers in 2003, hope to lead the Bulldogs to their first SoCon Men's Golf title since 1964.
Visit www.SoConSports.com for standings and results, updated each nine holes through the tournament.