Aug. 28, 2009
RIVERSIDE, Iowa - The Baylor men's golf team opens the 2009-10 season with Golfweek's 2009 Collegiate Conference Challenge at Blue Top Ridge at the Riverside Casino and Resort.
The 54-hole Challenge will feature top teams from 15 Division I conferences Sun., Aug. 30-Tue., Sept. 1, with 18 holes of play each day. Live scoring for each round will be available online at www.GolfStat.com.
Joining Big 12 representative Baylor at the Challenge are Florida State (ACC), Xavier (Atlantic 10), USF (BIG EAST), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Iowa (Big Ten), VCU (Colonial Athletic Association), Memphis (Conference USA), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), California (Pac-10), Vanderbilt (SEC), Georgia Southern (Southern), UT Arlington (Southland), Middle Tennessee (Sun Belt) and New Mexico State (WAC).
Baylor, which advanced to its 12th consecutive NCAA Regional last season, opens the 2009-10 season with one of its toughest schedules under head coach Greg Priest.
"We are looking forward to starting our season at Golfweek's Conference Challenge," Priest said. "It will be a difficult field and good golf course, but I believe our guys are up to the test."
Junior Cody Paladino and sophomores Joakim Mikkelsen, Morten Bergan and Lorenzo Scotto bolster Baylor's opening lineup. Joining Baylor's top four returners is junior Michigan State transfer Payne Gniewek, who will be making his Baylor debut.
Paladino enters his junior season after one of the most successful summers as a Baylor Bear. Paladino competed at the 84th U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Norman, Okla., and the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship in Tulsa, Okla. The Kensington, Conn., native concluded his sophomore season in 2009 with an appearance at the 112th NCAA Championships as an individual in Toledo, Ohio. Paladino finished third on the team last season with a 74.18 scoring average and 2.77 score vs. par, while carding a team-best 14 rounds of par or better.
As a freshman last season, Mikkelsen enjoyed one of the best rookie campaigns in program history. He finished second on the team in scoring average (73.45), score vs. par (1.97) and rounds of par or better (13). He accumulated the highest percentage of rounds counting toward the team score last season (90.1 percent). At the midway point of last season, Mikkelsen was joined by fellow Norwegian Bergan, who played in six tournaments for the Bears as a true freshman.
Scotto, the third of Baylor's international trio, ranked fifth on last year's team in scoring average (74.64) and fourth in score vs. par (2.96).
Gniewek finished second on Michigan State's team with a 73.91 scoring average as a sophomore, good for 12th on the MSU single-season list. He won a team-best two events, while posting four top-10 and seven top-20 finishes.