MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Sept. 11, 2016) – The 2016-2017 WVU Golf season begins today as the Mountaineers compete at The Invitational At The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. The team is led by a pair of Mountain State natives and bolstered by talented youth.
The tournament, hosted by the No. 49 College of Charleston, will feature 36 holes of play on Monday and an additional 18 holes on Tuesday. Teams will tee off at 7:30 a.m. ET in shotgun starts on both days on the prestigious Ocean Course (par-72, 7,115 yards), which hosted the 2007 Senior PGA and 2012 PGA Championships.
In addition to the Mountaineers and the Cougars, the following teams will comprise the field: Augusta, No. 63 Charleston Southern, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Francis Marion, No. 83 Georgia Southern, No. 64 Georgia State, No. 76 Maryland, Middle Tennessee, No. 68 Ole Miss, South Alabama, No. 65 Troy, No. 75 VCU and Winthrop.
Fitting that a pair of West Virginia natives will lead the squad in its second season of varsity competition, as Parkersburg’s Alan Cooke and Scott Depot’s Chris Williams enter their final campaign in Gold and Blue. Cooke posted a solid junior season with a trio of top-25 finishes, setting a program record with a three-round score of 207 for second place at Penn State’s Rutherford Intercollegiate. However, it was his offseason that made headlines as he won the 97th West Virginia Amateur by eight strokes to earn a bid to the 2016 Greenbrier Classic. The event was later canceled due to flooding in the state.
Williams was also a steady presence in 2016 and, along with Cooke, represented the Mountaineers at their first-ever Big 12 Championship in Texas. He saw action in 10 tournaments, claiming a top-20 finish at the President’s Day Challenge in Houston, Texas, this past February (T-16th) and won WVU’s opening qualifier to earn a trip to Kiawah Island for the 2016-17 season opener.
“Alan and Chris, two West Virginia natives, are our two seniors this year and know better than anyone else on this team what it means to represent the Flying WV,” said Covich. “Alan had a great summer, highlighted by winning the State Amateur, which should give him a lot of confidence heading into this season. Chris also played well this summer and is perhaps the best ball striker on the team, he can really move it off the tee with his driver.”
The Mountaineers’ junior class consists of three veterans and a newcomer as transfer Drew Dewald joins Jon Ransone, Avery Schneider and Tae Wan Lee in this class. A native of Copperas Cove, Texas, Dewald spent two seasons at McLennan Community College before arriving in Morgantown this fall. He was named to the 2016 PING All-District Team by the Golf Coaches Association of America and earned All-Southwest Conference First Team honors for the Highlanders, helping them to a runner-up finish at the NJCAA National Tournament in 2015.
Ransone competed in four events as a sophomore for WVU, registering a top-20 finish at the President’s Day Challenge and finishing five over par at the Joe Feaganes Marshall Invitational in October. He went on to have an impressive summer, advancing to the 2016 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier in Springfield, Ohio.
The winner of the 2016 Academic Achievement Award, Avery Schneider participated in nine tournaments for the Mountaineers after transferring from Drexel. Schneider has a pair of top-20 finishes on his resume, taking 13th at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate in October with a score of 144 for two over par – after self-reporting a violation and taking a penalty. His efforts earned him WVU’s nomination for Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year.
Tae Wan Lee also enters his junior season after playing in five events in 2015-16. He finishes 10 over par in October’s Mountaineer Intercollegiate.
“Our junior class added Drew Dewald, a junior college transfer from the NJCAA national championship team. Drew has a lot of potential, much like Chris, he can bomb it off the tee,” said Covich. “Avery Schneider saw a lot of action for us last season and continues to be one of our hardest workers. Jon Ransone had a solid summer. He showed what he was capable of by taking second at the U.S. Open local qualifier at Pete Dye Golf Club back in May. Tae Wan Lee, also a junior, continues to improve.”
The 2016 Player of the Year, Max Sear enters his second season with the Mountaineers after a standout freshman year. Playing in all 13 tournaments, he boasts six top-20 finishes and a pair of top-10 finishes in his rookie season. After tying for second at the Wolfpack Intercollegiate in October, Sear finished tied for 10th at the inaugural Mountaineer Intercollegiate. He also finished just two spots shy of all-conference honors when he took 12th at WVU’s first-ever Big 12 Championship in Texas last May. Sear’s summer play only served to enhance his collegiate career, as he won the U.S. Amateur Qualifier in New York as well as the Ontario Men’s Amateur.
Tristan Nicholls steadily improved his game throughout his freshman season, qualifying for seven tournaments in addition to representing the Mountaineers at Big 12s. Nicholls led West Virginia with a ninth-place finish at the President’s Day Challenge last February and was 22nd at the Rutherford Intercollegiate in April.
West Virginia native Cole Hand also qualified for several tournaments in his first season in Morgantown. Hand competed at Ohio State’s Robert Kepler Invitational and WVU’s Mountaineer Intercollegiate, among others.
“Max Sear returns as our player of the year last season. He was without a doubt our MVP and contributed every single round last year. He qualified for the U.S. Amateur, the Porter Cup and the Sunnehanna Amateur this summer,” said Covich. “Cole Hand, a Wheeling native, is also returning as a sophomore. He continues to carry a great attitude and improves each semester, as does Tristan Nicholls. He got better each and every week as a freshman and hopefully will continue on that path.”
A pair of rookies join the Mountaineers this fall in Ty Olinger and Etienne Papineau. Though young, both bring a wealth of experience to Morgantown.
A native of Blacksburg, Virginia, Olinger was rated the No. 2 player in the state for the class of 2016. He is a four-time VIC All-State honoree and was the VIC State Tournament runner-up in 2013 and 2014. This past summer, he won the VGSA Match Play title.
Papineau, a Canadian National Team member, ranks as the No.2 amateur and junior player in the province of Quebec and the No. 13 amateur in Canada. He was the 2015 Amateur Golfer of the Year in Quebec and took medalist honors at the Canadian Collegial National Championship, Quebec Amateur Championship, Graham Cooke Junior Invitational, Alexander of Tunis Championship and Quebec Match Play Championship.
“I’m excited about what our freshmen class will do,” said Covich. “Etienne Papineau brings a ton of experience and talent to our team, while Ty Olinger was a very accomplished junior golfer out of Blacksburg, Virginia.”
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via WVU Sports