The No. 20 Virginia men's golf team travels to Statesboro, Ga. this weekend to play in the Chris Schenkel Invitational at Forest Heights Country Club, where it will face off against what coach Bowen Sargen called some of the best teams in the country.
"The teams we will be playing are a mix of ACC and SEC teams," Sargent said. "Our goal for this week is to get back on track and have a good chance at winning come Sunday."
To achieve this success, the team will have to build upon its recent success at the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate in Aiken, S.C., where it finished fifth in its first tournament this spring.
"It was a good win, and I think we played well as a team," said sophomore Ben Kohles, who finished first in the event for his second victory this season. "I hope that some of the good things will carry over into this tournament and that we go out as a team and play really well and possibly pull out a victory."
Kohles - whose recent victory brought him into the top 10 of the two major college rankings for individual players - is just one golfer whose performance could be key to the overall success of the team. Given the team component to college-level golf, however, one player's performance cannot guarantee Virginia's success.
"In terms of Kohles, what he does doesn't necessarily have an impact on the way the other players play," Sargent said. "I do think he is a good leader and does a good job of going out every day in practice and sets a good example for everyone else, and I hope that it will show off and pay dividends when we play."
The team could have some catching up to do, as the weather this winter has made it difficult for team members to reflect and improve during the usual break between the fall and spring segments of the golf season.
"I think that a lot of what we have to do is get the rust off and getting back in the swing of playing again," Sargent said. "Like all sports, there is a certain amount of timing, and things that go into swinging. If we are able to get ourselves in the mode of playing, I think we will be fine."
The Cavaliers, however, have worked to improve upon their performance in last year's tournament, where they finished 11th. Then-sophomore Will Collins posted the best performance among players who still are on the squad, finishing 26th at the time. Overall, Virginia's best performance came from then-senior Conrad Von Borsig, who placed 20th. Now, one year later, Kohles believes this experience will help the team's performance this season.
"We played in this tournament last year," he said. "We are pretty familiar with the course and we have a lot of experience on our team in our five starters. Our main goal is to use these things to try and win."
The Chris Schenkel Invitational, now in its 31st year, takes place March 19-21 and is hosted by Georgia Southern University.