Thomasville, NC> Coker College men’s golf team has been honored by being selected the 2009 Conference Carolina’s preseason coaches poll favorite.  The Coker team will begin the 2009 spring season after the best fall season in school history. Coach Tommy Baker and the Cobras did not place below third in their four tournaments this fall, including winning the Coker Intercollegiate tournament and finishing second at the Kiawah Island Invitational, just six strokes behind No. 1 nationally ranked USC-Aiken.

Coker, currently ranked 17th in the nation by Golfstat, is led by junior Chris Marsh, a 2008 Second Team All-Conference selection, and two-time conference golfer of the month during the fall. Marsh posted a 70.12 stroke average for the fall in eight rounds of play, including setting the course record at Kiawah Island’s Cougar Point with an eight under 64. Along with Marsh, junior Jimmy Gillam, sophomore John LaDow, and freshmen Diego Polo and Jared Crane will look to lead the Cobras to the conference title and back to the NCAA championship.

Barton College was picked second by the Conference Carolinas coaches. The Bulldogs return eight players from a team that was ranked No. 1 in the Atlantic Region in 2007-08, including four of their top five. In the fall, former 2007 Conference Champion and 2008 Conference Player of the Year Jonathan Burke and 2008 Regional Medalist and All-American Daniel Castleberry were joined in Barton’s starting five by D-III All-American transfer Tom Muto and freshmen David Boyce and Dalton Rich in all four events. Barton set an all-time scoring record at 21-under (36 holes) in one fall event, thus expectations will be high this spring since 2007 Conference Freshman of the Year Stephen Harrison will be returning from ACL surgery.

“I believe this is the best team we have ever had,” said 12th-year Barton head coach John Hackney, “but a lot of teams in our league can say the same. Our conference features some of the most talented teams in all of Division II golf this season, so the spring should be a real shootout. We can’t wait to tee it up!”

Mount Olive College is ranked third in the pre season poll. Mount Olive is coming off its best fall season in history, which included two tournament championships, record tournament scores and the program’s first-ever national ranking (No. 18). The Trojans captured first place in The Preview at Tillery, which featured nine Conference Carolinas schools. Mount Olive also shattered a school 36-hole record with a 21-under-par 555 in the Trojans’ win at the Gardner’s BBQ Dogfight, hosted by Barton College.

The Trojan’s Scott Woodard, who missed 2007-08 with an injury, was ranked among the top 20 in the nation for low scoring average. Jonathan Greene took individual honors at The Preview at Tillery, while Woodard placed third. 

Rounding out the golf preseason poll 4-11 was: Belmont Abbey, Queens, Anderson, St. Andrews, Pfeiffer Limestone, Erskine and Lees-McRae respectively.

Conference Carolinas Pre-Season Coaches’ Poll
(First place votes in parentheses)

                1.             Coker College                        (6)            94

                2.             Barton College                       (3)            88

                3.             Mount Olive College             (1)           76

                4.             Belmont Abbey College        (1)            70

                5.             Queens University of Charlotte           63

                6.             Anderson University                              57

                7.             St. Andrews Presbyterian College       44

                8.             Pfeiffer University                                  42

                9.             Limestone College                                 40

                10.           Erskine College                                      17

                11.           Lees-McRae College                              14