Golf Back in Action at Tiger Invitational on Monday
March 10, 2013
AUBURN, Ala. - For the second time this month, the 31st-ranked University of Houston golf team will compete when it takes part at the Tiger Invitational, hosted by Auburn at Grand National Golf Club.
The tournament tees off with an 8 a.m.. shotgun start Monday on the 7,149-yard, par-72 course. The teams will play 36 holes Monday before starting the final round with tee times at 7:45 a.m., Tuesday.
The Cougars were expected to be one of the nation's top collegiate programs entering the fall season, and the team has lived up to those preseason plans. Houston has posted six straight top-3 team finishes in as many tournaments and captured the team title at the Lone Star Invitational in mid-October.
For director of golf Jonathan Dismuke, the Tiger Invitational will be a homecoming. The fourth-year Houston coach lettered at Auburn from 2001 to 2004. As a collegiate player, he competed in four NCAA Regionals and three NCAA Championships and was a member of the 2002 Tiger team that won the SEC championship.
His individual career was highlighted by numerous top-5 finishes, including a third-place showing at the 2004 NCAA Regional. That same season, he earned All-SEC honors and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll
"It's going to be surreal for me. My first interaction with UH came at Grand National at the 2000 NCAA Championships that Auburn hosted and at which UH finished fourth," Dismuke said. "Going back to the course and reliving all of that and spending some time in my old college town will be a fun experience."
The Cougars will be part of a 15-team field that features five teams ranked among the GolfStat.com national rankings. Host Auburn is the highest-ranked team at No. 21, followed by the 31st-ranked Cougars, No. 41 Mississippi State, No. 42 Chattanooga and No. 45 North Carolina.
Other teams scheduled to compete are Charlotte, East Carolina, Kentucky, Kennesaw State, Memphis, Samford, South Alabama, Troy, Wake Forest and Yale.
Dismuke recently announced that sophomores Roman Robledo and Kyle Pilgrim, juniors Curtis Reed and Wesley McClain and freshman Vincent Martino will represent the Cougars at the Tiger Invitational.
"We have to go out and play three solid rounds. We haven't really done that in the spring yet. We have played two solid round each time, but our focus will be to go out and play three rounds. We have a talented bunch, and they are all in good form now," Dismuke said. "That's the challenge of golf. It's hard to repeat day in and day out. We are going to ask them to keep their wits about them and put up three solid rounds."
Reed was the Cougars' leading performer in their last event, finishing second at the Louisiana Classics on March 4-5, thanks to a final-round 68. For his impressive efforts , the Castroville, Texas, native was honored Wednesday as the Conference USA Player of the Week, a first in his career.
Reed ranks second on the team with a 72.83 scoring average but tops the Cougars with eight rounds of par or better this season. His second-place finish at the Louisiana Classics was the best showing by any Cougar in 2012-13.
Robledo moved into a tie for seventh place at the Louisiana Classics after posting two sub-par rounds, including an opening-round 70. It was his fifth top-10 finish this season and the 10th of his outstanding young career.
In addition, the Harlingen, Texas, native is one of five Cougars to have scoring averages of 73.00 or better and ranks fourth on the team at 72.89.
Competing in his first collegiate season, Martino leads the Cougars with a 72.53 scoring average and has totaled five rounds of par or better. The Southlake, Texas, native tied for 33rd at the Louisiana Classics on March 4-5, the first non-top-20 showing of his career.
Pilgrim has emerged as a leader during the spring season. He posted a career-best fifth-place finish at the Cougars' own Bayou City Collegiate Championship at Redstone Golf Club on Feb. 22-24 and has enjoyed three rounds of par or better in 2012-13.
McClain has competed in four tournaments this season and recorded a 72.97 scoring average during that time. He has posted five rounds of par or better and finished fourth at the Shoal Creek Intercollegiate early during the fall season.
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Following the Tiger Invitational, the Cougars continue their spring season when they play host at the Border Olympics on March 15-16 at Laredo Country Club in Laredo, Texas.