The Clayton State men’s golf team will open its season Monday in the seventh annual UNG Fall Invitational in Gainesville.
The 54-hole tournament will be hosted by the University of North Georgia at the Chattahoochee Golf Club. This will be the first time the tournament is played at Chattahoochee, as it is normally played at Achasta Golf Club.
Due to COVID-19, this will be the only tournament the Lakers play this fall. Clayton State is expected to play a full slate in the spring. Spectators are allowed at the two-day event but will have to adhere to the event rules. Live stats can also be found at golfstat.com.
The field is expected to have 16 teams compete, with seven coming from the Peach Belt Conference.
Of those 16 teams, 15 are Division II while six finished the 2019-20 season ranked inside the Bushnell Golfweek Division II Poll. Those teams include Georgia Southwestern (No. 1), Columbus State (No. 4), USC Aiken (No. 5), Lincoln Memorial (No. 6), Lee (No. 9) and Delta State (No. 13). Piedmont College, Division III, finished last season ranked No. 24 in their respective poll.
“That’s what we play for. We want to play against the best,” CSU head coach Hank Kim said. “The stronger the field, the better. We always look for strong tournaments here because that’s how you improve. We find our weaknesses during competition and then come home and work on it.”
The Lakers will kick off the tournament on Monday with 36 holes before closing it out with 18 on Tuesday. In 2019, Clayton State finished 2-of-14 teams in the Sixth Annual UNG Fall Invitational while setting the program 54-hole record with a 21-under 843. The Lakers also set the program’s 36-hole (22-under 554) and 18-hole (13-under 275) records.
Last season, senior Joseph Kim took home co-medalist honors and etched his name into the record books. Kim’s opening round of 8-under 64 tied the lowest overall round and lowest under-par round in program history. Kim also tied the tournament record for lowest round of 18 holes and lowest 54-hole round (15-under 201). The 15-under 201 is also a program best.
Kim finished the season as an All-American, All-Southeast Region, All-Peach Belt Conference and was named to the PBC Team of Academic Distinction. His 70.88 scoring average ranked sixth in the country and tops the Clayton State record book.
“It’s amazing. We got very lucky,” Hank Kim said on Joseph Kim returning. “It’s a good opportunity for us and a good opportunity for him to show that he keeps improving. He’s a huge asset to the team, team captain and leads by example.
“I’m very excited that he’s back. I expect him to do something really good this year.”
Clayton State will be looking to get back on the course after a solid 2019-20 campaign. In six tournaments, the Lakers finished in the top 5 five times with two second-place results.
Eight student-athletes return to play for sixth-year head coach Hank Kim while one newcomer joins the team. Due to the 2019-20 season ending early, the NCAA allowed those affected by the cancellations to retain a year of eligibility.
This season’s roster consists of:
Ivan Emiliano (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)
Joseph Kim (Martinez, Ga.)
Raul Carbonell (Panama City, Panama)
Francisco Manzanilla (Valencia, Venezuela)
Nico Cabello (Santiago, Chile)
Javier Gonzalez (San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico)
Augusto Oliva (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Sam Hershoff (Naples, Fla.)
Griff Autry (Covington, Ga.)