Maryville College's Wil Manuel will take part in the 70th renewal of the Tennessee Golf Association's State Open Championship beginning today in College Grove, Tenn.
The Franklin American Mortgage Company TGA State Open will take place at The Grove on May 22-24, as Manuel is one of only two amateurs from the Knoxville area to qualify.
"This is the second State Open that Wil has played in over the last three years," Maryville College Director of Golf Ron Waters said. "His game has really kind of taken off. This spring was probably the best he's played in college, and he's continued to improve. His game is very solid. Qualifying for the Open is a big, big feat."
Manuel qualified for the state's open by tying for first in the qualifier on Tuesday, May 1. Manuel shot a one-under 71 at Three Ridges Golf Course in Knoxville, Tenn.
He joins Tyler Phillips, Andrew McCain, David Holmes, Gabriel Hunter, Stuart Thomas and Brooks Thomas as the seven to qualify from the Knoxville area. Only he and Hunter are amateurs in the group.
The State Open will have two rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, as a cut on Wednesday will decide who plays in the final round on Thursday.
"I'm excited for him," Waters said. "I think he can go down there and play well, and it'll be a big boost for him this summer."
Manuel made the State Open in 2016, as the then rising sophomore made the cut after day two. Following two rounds, the Chattanooga, Tenn. native posted a one-over 145. He tallied four birdies in the opening round and a trio of others in the second to make the cut.
Manuel finished with a 73-72-75 for a four-over 220 to tie for 48th in a field made up of Tennessee's best amateurs and professionals.
Now, heading into his senior campaign, Manuel will take part in his second, as this season marks the first time the TGA State Open Championship will be held at The Grove.
Located in Williamson County, The Grove is an 18-hole Greg Norman Signature Design golf course that incorporated the natural rolling hills, meandering stream beds and native grasses of Middle Tennessee. Opened in 2012, the course is a par-72 layout measuring 7,300 yards from the longest tees.
"The Tennessee State Open is the premier championship for amateurs and professionals in our state, and we are honored to have Franklin American Mortgage as title sponsor," Chad Anderson, the Executive Director for the Tennessee Golf Association, said. "Franklin American is involved in many first-class events like the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, and we look forward to providing a great championship for our players."
Manuel will look to carry his recent success into the Tennessee Open today. The rising senior finished tied for 11th in the USA South Athletic Conference Championship with a nine-over, three-round score.
He also had a key tournament in the Green Meadow Invitational to boost his confidence heading into the qualifier on May 1.
"The Green Meadow Invitational a couple weeks ago, he shot a 66 in the final round to finish as the runner-up out there," Waters said. "That was his lowest-ever competitive round. That was a big feat for him, and I think it gave him a lot of confidence. It was a good way to start the summer."
After shooting a 74 in the opening round, Manuel bounced back with his career-low 66 on day two. That total gave him a four-under 140 for the two-day tournament, as he finished as the runner-up just two days before the qualifying round.
Manuel put up seven birdies and just one bogey on the final day. Defending champion and Green Meadow member Michael Bradshaw shot a 69-68, 137 for the victory.
However, Manuel looks to continue his success going into his senior campaign.
He holds both the season and career Eagle record for Maryville College, as the Scot has tallied one career tournament victory. Manuel has seven career Eagles.
The rising senior has played in 62 career rounds – just nine off the MC career record – as he's carded 56 counting scores. Manuel is just two off Whitten's career record of 58.
"Wil will have played more rounds than anyone in Maryville College history by the time he finishes next year," Waters said. "He'll have more counting scores than anyone else. He's done a lot of positive things for our team. The biggest thing, though, is his game has matured. His attitude on the golf course has matured and the way he handles himself. I'm expecting great things out of him during his senior year."