The LaGrange golf team tees off Tuesday at the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships. The tournament is being played for the second straight year at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C.
The Panthers, ranked second in the final regular season Bushnell Golfweek Division III Coaches Poll and third by Golfstat.com, are playing in their eighth NCAA Division III national championship. Last year, the Panthers tied for eighth for their best finish yet.
The Panthers tee off at 12 p.m. on the more difficult East Course and start Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on the West Course. The 41-team field will be cut to 15 following the second round Wednesday.
The Panthers are no strangers to the Grandover Resort Course. In addition to playing the course last season in the national tournament, the Panthers have played it in the fall the past two years.
The Panthers had the second youngest team in the tournament last year. They will be among the youngest again this year with a lone senior, along with two sophomores and freshmen each.
Senior Cory Howard has led the Panthers this season. He is a two-time All-American and three-time USA South All-Conference first team selection. Howard has won two tournaments outright this spring, including his second straight USA South individual championship, and tied for first in one other tournament.
The Panthers are the only team in the field to have three golfers in the top 20 of Golfstat.com's Division III individual rankings. Howard is ranked fourth, while sophomore Osborn Theam is 10th and fellow sophomore Logan Lanier is 19th. Theam has five top 10 finishes and Lanier has four. Both players were named to the USA South All-Conference teams.
Freshmen Ryan Najim and Eric Havixbeck round out the starting lineup for the Panthers. Najim had a fourth place finish at the Callaway Invitational and was 10th at the USA South Tournament. Havixbeck was 15th at the Bermuda Collegiate Inviational.