The Georgia State Men’s Golf team has swung deep into its 2022 season schedule. The Panthers are back in action after falling to rival Georgia Southern in the semifinal of last season’s Sun Belt Championship tournament.
Entering his sixth year, head coach Chad Wilson will have to navigate the course with a squad featuring only two upperclassmen with a large portion of the team consisting of freshmen. The first stop on that course would be the Maui Jim Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Maui Jim Intercollegiate
Freshman Hunter Smith led the pack on day one as he shot (-2) for a total score of 68, placing him at 29th in the competition. Connor MacMillan shot (-1) and was not far behind Smith with a score of 69.
“I am happy with the way we played today for our first round of the year,” Wilson said. “Super proud of our two freshmen; if we clean up some bad tee ball mistakes, we should be able to pass a few teams the next two days.”
At the end of the first day, the Panthers totaled 282 points, causing them to finish 17th out of the 18 teams.
Day two was full of improvements as four Panthers finished under par. Macmillan (-2), Mason Dean (-2), Smith (-1) and Jordan Jung (-1) propelled the Panthers into 15th place, tying Georgia State with UCLA headed into the final day.
Georgia State concluded the event with a final round of 285, which was enough to secure 15th place ahead of UNLV and NC State. Smith was the highest-placing Panther, finishing 38th, shooting two under par.
Up next was the J.T. Poston Invitational at Western Carolina.
J.T. Poston Invitational
The Panthers had a rough start, shooting (+9), but did have a few bright spots. Jung shot (+1) on day one of the competition but followed it up with his career low in the second round, shooting (-6).
His teammates picked up the slack, launching Georgia State into seventh place in a two-day span.
“We had a very disappointing opening round, but the guys fought back and had the lowest second round team score,” Wilson said.
Jung’s club stayed hot, finishing (+1) as he placed ninth overall on the final day. Smith and MacMillan finished within the top 50, shooting (+7) and (+10), respectively.
The Panthers then headed home to host the Georgia State Invitational.
Georgia State Invitational
This matchup featured a career-low from another Panther in junior Jake Kephart. Kephart shot 76 on day one and followed it up in the second round with a career-best 67 to sit comfortably in eighth place.
Jung had a solid two days, finishing (+1) at the end of day two to end the event in 15th place. The team combined for a 583 overall score, which was good enough for fourth place overall.
“Pleased with having the lowest second round score that allowed us to get back in a position to win the event,” Wilson said. “Ultimately, the mistakes on the greens have really cost us, but hopefully, we can clean that up for 18 holes tomorrow.”
Kephart shot a final round 74 to finish eighth, and Georgia State finished fifth in the overall competition.
“Disappointing day for the group as we weren’t able to play a solid round and get ourselves in contention,” Wilson said. “Still a lot of positives to take away from this week, and we are excited for our next event this weekend.”
This particular event was the Bank of Tennesse Intercollegiate hosted by Eastern Tennesse University.
Bank of Tennesse Intercollegiate
The course was unrelenting on the Panthers. Every golfer on the team finished above par for the first time all season. Jung led the squad once again, shooting 73, 76 and 72 across three rounds, landing him (+5) and 50th overall.
Georgia State shot (+29) in the competition to finish last in 15th place. In an effort to forget, the Panthers moved on to the Pinetree Invitational at Kennesaw State University.
In a very much improved outing, Georgia State had four players place within the top 50 after day two. Smith once again led the pack, shooting (+4) after two days, finding himself in 19th place.
Jung wasn’t far behind in 23rd for shooting (+5), Kephart and MacMillan tied for 31st shooting (+6). The Panthers were in eighth place and aiming for an even higher finish.
Day three saw a turnaround, with Smith shooting (+6) overall and 12th in the competition. MacMillan (+8) and Jung (+9) finished 15th and 20th, respectively.
The Panthers don’t see another competition until Feb. 2023 at the Wexford Intercollegiate in South Carolina.