Bears Set to Host Branson Creek Invitational



The Missouri State men's golf team will host eight other teams Monday and Tuesday (Apr. 5-6) at the Branson Creek Invitational in Hollister, Mo.  The annual event is slated for an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start both days with the teams playing 36 holes Monday and 18 Tuesday.

The acclaimed Branson Creek Golf Club will again serve as the host course.  Ranked among the top 100 public courses in America, Branson Creek was designed by renowned architect Tom Fazio and is a par 71 layout that will play to 6,959 yards for this event.

"We always look forward to hosting at Branson Creek because it's such a good course and gives us a chance to show off some of the great facilities we have access to," said MSU coach Neal Stafford. 

Western Illinois is back to defend its title against Bradley, Creighton, Houston Baptist, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Stephen F. Austin, and UNI in addition to the Bears.  The Leathernecks posted an eight-shot victory over Arkansas-Little Rock a year ago in a weather-shortened event.  The Bears finished ninth last year in a 12-team field and Ryan Weinhaus was their low finisher, tying for 20th place.  WIU's Kyle Peterman is the low returning finisher, tying for second after shooting 79-69--148.

The tournament comes after a two-week layoff for the Bears and is the first of four consecutive tournaments, culminating with the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship in Hutchinson, Kan., Apr. 26-27.

"We've been off for a couple of weeks, so our guys are really ready to get going again," said Stafford.  "This is the beginning of the home stretch for us and getting into the most important part of our season.  Playing at home, it's a great chance to build some momentum and get onto a little bit of a roll."

MSU is led by the trio of Jay McBride, Will Hogan and Jack Courington.  McBride is a senior who's already won one tournament this season and ranks 15th in the league with a 75.39 scoring average.  Hogan is a sophomore in his first season with the Bears after transferring from Missouri.  He leads the team and ranks ninth in the Valley in scoring average at 74.91 and has posted four top-10 finishes.  Courington shattered the school 18-hole record with a nine-under-par 63 a month ago at the USF Invitational and holds a 75.78 scoring mark.

The weather forecast calls for warm temperatures in the 70's and 80's with a chance of thunderstorms each day.  The public is invited and there is no admission charge.



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