The Bearkats have won two regular season intercollegiate tournaments this year. The Bearkats took the Harold Funston Invitational at Raven Nest in Huntsville in October and opened April by beating four other Southland teams in the Jim West Intercollegiate April 1-3 in Victoria.
Sam Houston is No. 92 in the Golfstat rankings, which ranks fifth among Southland teams.
Scott Kelly, the conference's medalist in 2008, is the top rated Bearkat this season at No. 8 among Southland players. The fifth-year senior has a 73.27 stroke average and one tournament win at the Squire Creek Invitational Oct. 3-4 in Choudrant, La.
Senior Garrett Driver and James Glenn also have individual wins this season. Driver won the ULM Wallace Jones Invitational April 9-10 in Calhoun, La., while Glenn tied for the win at the Don Benhow Invitational March 12-13 in Jacksonville, Fla. Driver had the lowest round in the conference this season, carding a 63 in the final rounds of the Jim West Intercollegiate. The 63 was a Sam Houston men's golf school record.
UT Arlington will be trying to defend last year's title, which was its fourth overall Southland championship and first since the 2005 season. The Mavericks, though, won't be playing on its home course like it did last year at Waterchase Golf Course in Fort Worth.
While UTA will still have the luxury of playing in the Metroplex, none of the field will be playing at "home" since this year's event is a true neutral-site tournament being held on the par-72, 7,346-yard Pete Dye Signature Course in McKinney.
UT Arlington is ranked third among Southland teams in the latest Golfstat rankings at No. 63 behind Southeastern Louisiana and Lamar. The Mavericks are looking for their first tournament win as a team since last year's conference championship and have three players ranked in the top 20 of the Golfstat rankings. UTA is having to find replacements for two players who finished in the top five last year. Paul McConnell is UT Arlington's top returning player from last year's title team having finished eighth. He ranks third in scoring average (72.75) and won the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic Sept. 26-27 for his only win this season.
Southeastern Louisiana, which won its third Southland championship in 2010, is the Southland's top rated team according to the Golfstat, which are used to seed the teams in the opening round. The Lions are No. 58 and have the top rated golfer in the conference's individual rankings, junior Philipp Westermann is scoring an average of 71.79 strokes per round to lead the conference and has one tournament win, having claimed the Carter Plantation Intercollegiate in March with a 7-under score. Southeastern has one tournament win this season, having won the UALR First Tee Classic March 26-27.
Lamar senior M.J. Daffue will try to repeat as the individual medalist, having won in a playoff last year in Fort Worth. He shot 4-under par to tie Central Arkansas' Jad Sinclair, but claimed medalist honors on the first playoff hole. He ranks seventh among this year's field with a 73.09 stroke average and is the only golfer in the league with multiple wins. The Cardinals' lone tournament win came March 16-17 at the Border Olympics. Lamar, which is in search of its 24th Southland championship, is ranked No. 61 by Golfstat. The Cardinals' last of four consecutive titles came in 2009.
This will be Central Arkansas' second Southland tournament as a fully eligible conference member. UCA finished fourth last year thanks to Sinclair's run for medalist honors, but the Bears have had to find replacements for three others who played in the championship.
Stephen F. Austin junior Mitchell McLeroy won the Jim West Intercollegiate April 1-3 by one stroke ahead of Sam Houston's Driver. McLeroy is second in the conference with a 72.45 stroke average. Nicholls State sophomore Kristjan Einarsson won the Harold Funston Invitational, hosted by Sam Houston in October.
McNeese State was the only other team to win a team title, giving the Southland seven team wins in 2011-12. The Cowboys won the Frito Lay Taco Bell Intercollegiate hosted by Jackson State Feb. 18-20 in Philadelphia, Miss.
The conference tournament is slated to tee off Monday at 8 a.m. Players will play 18 holes of golf Monday and Tuesday before playing the final round of 18 holes Wednesday.
Ten Southland universities field a men's golf team: Central Arkansas, Lamar, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin, UT Arlington, UTSA and Texas State.
Southeastern Louisiana, Lamar and UT Arlington are the favorites entering the tournament, though six Southland Conference teams are ranked among the top 100 of the most recent Golfweek collegiate rankings. The Cardinals are ranked No. 56, followed by No. 61 Southeastern, No. 79 UT Arlington, No. 82 Central Arkansas, No. 86 Sam Houston State and No. 93 Texas State.
Live scoring for the 2012 Southland Conference Men's Golf Championship will be available at www.southland.org.