Sun Belt Men’s Golf Championship tees-off

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. - The Middle Tennessee State University men's golf team will be searching for its second consecutive men's golf title when the Sun Belt Conference Men's Golf Championship begins Monday, April 26 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's the Shoals.

The SBC men's championship will consist of three rounds in three days at The Shoals' Fighting Joe Course, with a 7,171-yard, par-72 layout, with the winner earning an automatic berth into the field of the 2010 NCAA Championships, which will begin next month.

The Blue Raiders won their first SBC golf title last season and are looking to become the first SBC school to win back-to-back team titles since UALR did it in the 2000 and 2001 season. As a team the Blue Raiders lead the SBC in stroke average with a team average of 288.69 with nine top-ten finishes this season including three tournament wins.

MTSU is led by Kent Bulle who owns a 71.92 stroke average in 2010 and is one of three MTSU golfers in the top ten in stroke average in the coference. In fact, those same three golfers have each won a tournament this year.

The Blue Raiders are also coming in hot off of the tees having played the Crooked Stick Invitational just one week prior to the start of the SBC Championships. In the field of 12 teams, the Blue Raiders finished second in the team standings behind 11th-ranked Illinois.

Individually, Denver's Espen Kofstad will look to defend his SBC tournament title from one-year ago as he returns as the top Pioneer golfer and also leads the SBC in stroke average (71.19). In 2008, Kofstad finished tied for fourth overall in the individual standings on this very same course, firing a seven-under par to earn All-Conference honors. That same year the Pioneers earned the men's team title.

Other men's golfers to watch out for during the tournament is Bulle of Middle Tennessee, Marc-Etienne Bussieres of South Alabama, Jason Millard of Middle Tennessee, and Lloyd du Preez of Arkansas State. Each one of those top five golfers could take home the individual title.

Five of the 12 schools in the Sun Belt Conference that participate in the sport are ranked in the 100 coming into play according to Golfstat.

The Fighting Joe course, which opened in 2004, is long, really long, and is a links style course and is simply good straight-forward golf. Some say the 17th hole is the signature hole on the course, but the 18th green overlooking Wilson Lake on the Tennessee River will distract you with its beauty, if not its treachery.

- Sun Belt Conference -