By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – (Live Scoring | First Round Pairings | Tournament Schedule) The 2014 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championships open action Tuesday at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., at 7:30 a.m. EDT. The 63rd annual event is a 72-hole stroke play tournament that will be played over the course of four days, concluding with the final round on Friday (May 16).
The NAIA and national championship host The Sun Conference is providing live scoring throughout the championships on Golfstat. To access the live scoring, click here. Additionally, a post-round video show will air at the end of each day on the NAIA’s YouTube channel. To access the NAIA’s YouTube channel, click here.
Wayland Baptist (Texas), Webber International (Fla.) and Indiana Wesleyan kick off the event at 7:30 a.m. on hole No. 1, while Tyler Falk of Northwest Christian (Ore.), Matthew Latham of St. Andrews (N.C.) and Jorge Benitez of Davenport (Mich.) begin on hole No. 10 at 7:50 a.m. Cal State San Marcos, Thomas (Ga.) and Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) lead off the afternoon session on No. 1 at 12 p.m. Faulkner (Ala.), Bethany (Kan.) and Midland (Neb.) open afternoon action on the back-nine at 12:30 p.m.
LPGA International, which is hosting the event for the first time, welcomes 156 golfers to the Jones Course. The Jones Course is a traditional links-style design that opened in 1994. The field consists of 22 automatic qualifying teams, which won or finished runner-up in their respective conference, independent or unaffiliated group tournament, six at-large berths, Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (host berth) and 11 individual qualifiers. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released on May 1.
Seven teams that finished among the top 10 at last year’s event return to the field. Those teams include: Bellevue (Neb.), Cal State San Marcos, Faulkner, Grand View (Iowa), Johnson & Wales (Fla.), Oklahoma City and Texas Wesleyan.
Two-time defending national champion Oklahoma City highlights the returners. Last year, the Stars never trailed en route to a 28-stroke victory – the largest margin of victory at the national championships since Johnson & Wales won by 28 strokes at Prairie Highlands Golf Club in Olathe, Kan., in 2005. The win made Oklahoma City the first team to repeat as national champions since accomplishing the feat in 2006 and 2007.
Four teams at this year’s championships own at least one national title, led by Oklahoma City’s NAIA record nine red banners. Texas Wesleyan is second to the Stars with six championships. The Rams most recent crown came at PGA National in Palm Gardens, Fla., in 1999. British Columbia (2008) and Johnson & Wales (2005) are the other two.
Individually, James Marchesani of Oklahoma City is one of the key individual medal contenders among the 2014 field. Marchesani, who finished tied for seventh at last year’s national championships with a 2-over-par 290 (72-75-69-74), captured the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament individual title – his fourth win of the season – with an 8-under-par 205 (67-61-67) at the Tascosa Golf Club in Amarillo, Texas. Marchesani enters the event leading the NAIA in average score (70.79), par four scoring (3.95) and eagles (6), while also ranking among the top 10 nationally in par five scoring (10th; 4.71) and birdies (3rd; 95).
Other notable individuals in this year’s field include 2013 All-Tournament Team members Tyler Christian of Grand View (Iowa), Latham, Anthony Marchesani of Oklahoma City, Julian Taylor of Williams Woods (Mo.) and Jose Vega of Bellevue (Neb.). Each member of the quintet finished among the top 15 at last year’s national championships, led by a sixth-place finish by Marchesani (68-72-73-76—289).
In its 63-year history, 38 teams have had individuals earn medalist honors. Texas Wesleyan leads all institutions with nine individual winners. The next closest active member is Oklahoma City with four.
For more information on the 2014 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championships, click here.