Looking to clinch a spot in a fourth-straight NCAA Regional, Georgia State will open the Sun Belt Championship on Sunday at The Raven Golf Club in Miramar Beach, Fla.
The Panthers are looking for an eighth conference title a year after winning the stroke play portion of the championship before falling in extra holes to Troy in the match play portion.
The format will slightly change from what the Panthers saw in Florida last year. The 12-team field will play 54 holes of stroke play on Sunday and Monday, with 36 holes being played on day one. The top four teams will then qualify for match play with No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 scheduled for Tuesday morning.The winners will advance to the championship match on Tuesday afternoon.
Since 1998, Georgia State has finished in the top three in the conference tournament all but three times with seven titles and eight second-place finishes.
Last season, Georgia State finished the 54-hole event at 4-under par to top Troy by six strokes. After earning an impressive 4.5-.5 win over South Alabama in the morning, the Panthers fell to the Trojans 3-2 in the afternoon as Alex Herrmann lost to Luke Moser in 19 holes.
“Our guys are locked in and ready to go win a championship,” head coach Joe Inman said. “Last year’s championship ended in disappointment for us, there is no way to sugar-coat it. The team knows what it needs to do to win the championship and we plan on going to Florida to finish what we started last year.”
Georgia State’s line-up will include senior Nathan Mallonee, juniors Max Herrmann and Alex Herrmann, along with sophomores Nick Budd and Nathan Williams.
Max Herrmann won low medalist honors at last year’s championship following a three-man playoff with teammate J.J. Grey and Troy’s Calum Masters. He has finished among the top 12 in Georgia State’s last three tournaments, including a tie for eighth at the 3M Augusta Invitational last time out.
Twin brother Alex Herrmann has led the Panthers this year with 71.87 scoring average and a pair of top 10 finishes. He won the Mobile Intercollegiate to open the spring after beginning the fall with a third-place finish at The Invitational.
Mallonee has had an impressive spring with three top 25 finishes, including a ninth-place result at the Hootie at Bulls Bay. He leads the team with five top 25 finishes and is second with a 72.23 scoring average.
Budd also picked up a win this year at the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate and enters the championship with a 72.57 scoring average. He tied for 19th at the 3M Augusta Invitational earlier this month.
Williams rounds out the line-up and will be making his first appearance in a Sun Belt Championship. He has played in every tournament this spring and tied for 16th at the Tiger Invitational.
Following a Saturday afternoon practice round at 2:30 p.m., the championship will get underway on Sunday. For rounds one and two, Georgia State will be paired with Troy and Georgia Southern, teeing off a 9:15 a.m. ET. Live scoring of the event will be available at GolfStat.com.
With a conference championship win, Georgia State will automatically earn a spot into NCAA Regional play which will be played May 15-17 at six national sites.Without a win, the Panthers will have to wait to see if they are selected as an at-large team. The NCAA championship is scheduled for May 26-31 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.