Hokies open season in Minnesota

The Virginia Tech men’s golf team will open the season on Sunday and Monday, at the Gopher Invitational, hosted by the University of Minnesota. The two-day event will be played at the par 71, 7,368-yard Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minnesota.

One of the top fields in collegiate golf will compete at Windsong Farm. Eight teams in the field played in the 2017 NCAA Championships and five teams in the field are in the GCAA's preseason top 25, while five others received votes. The Gopher Invitational's 2016 field was rated the 17th-toughest last season by Golfweek.

The Hokies will be led by Mark Lawrence Jr. The junior from Richmond, Virginia, advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur last month and won the VSGA State Amateur this summer. He led the team in scoring average and crunch time average last season and competed as an individual in the NCAA West Lafayette Regional.

Playing second for the Hokies is Sarit Suwannarut. The sophomore from Bangkok, Thailand was second in scoring and third in crunch time average last season. He joined Lawrence as an individual competitor in the NCAA West Lafayette Regional in May.

Connor Burgess is the first of two players making their collegiate debut for the Hokies at Minnesota. The freshman from Lynchburg, Virginia, the 2016 VSGA Junior Player of the Year, Burgess won the Greg Norman AJGA event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in July.

Blake Fiest will play in the four spot for the Hokies. The junior from Huntersville, North Carolina is making his fourth collegiate start for Tech. He tied for 11th at the North Carolina Amateur this summer.

Slade Pickering is the second of two Hokie freshmen making their debut at Windsong Farm. The freshman from North West, South Africa won numerous events as a junior in his native country.

The tournament will feature 36 holes on Sunday and the final round will be played Monday morning. Live stats will be available on Hokiesports.com, via a link from Golfstat.com.

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