ABILENE – The post-Alex Carpenter Era gets underway for the ACU men's golf program Monday when the Wildcats host players from 11 other universities in the annual Charles Coody West Texas Intercollegiate tournament at the Diamondback Golf Club.
The Wildcats are the defending tournament champions and will be joined by full teams from McMurry, Incarnate Word, Grand Canyon (Ariz.), Texas Wesleyan, Midland College, Odessa College, Western Texas College, Texas A&M International, New Mexico Junior College and Lubbock Christian. Texas Tech is also sending three individual players, but will not be in the team competition.
ACU won last year's tournament by 30 strokes over runner-up St. Mary's as the Wildcats shot rounds of 270 and 279 to finish at 549, while the Rattlers finished at 579 over the two rounds. Carpenter won the tournament for the second straight year, one of his 20 wins during his collegiate career, which is an NCAA record.
But the Wildcats play on now without Carpenter, and they'll be a fairly young group in their first year at the NCAA Division I level with five freshmen and one sophomore. Redshirt freshman Brandon Stites – who transferred to ACU from Pepperdine – qualified as the Wildcats' No. 1 player this week, and he'll be joined junior Luke Carpenter, senior Trey Sullivan, junior Corbin Renner and freshman Kyle Karnei.
Sullivan missed the end of the 2013 spring season after injuring his back, and he spent the summer rehabbing after undergoing back surgery. But ACU head coach Mike Campbell – starting his 11th season as the Wildcats' head coach – said Sullivan will play Monday and Tuesday and should be 100 percent by the spring season.
The teams will open play in the tournament Monday morning with 18 holes, followed by 18 more holes over Tuesday's final round. After their opening tournament, the Wildcats will be off for three weeks before playing in the Houston Baptist Husky Intercollegiate in Houston, Sept. 30-Oct. 1.