ST. GEORGE — Utah Valley University golfer Mason Casper will look to defend his title at the SUU Pat Hicks Invitational Monday and Tuesday at Sunbrook Golf Club in St. George.

"Look for Mason to make another run at the tournament title," UVU golf coach Chris Curran said. "He is playing very solid right now. If he gets the putter going, watch out."

Casper shot a 7-under par to win the tournament previously, while the team finished third. "Our mindset this week is to play smart golf and be patient," Curran said. "Sunbrook is a golf course that will yield a lot of birdies, but can also jump up and bite you. Thinking our way around the golf course and using good course-management skills will be key."

Along with Utah Valley and host SUU, Boise State, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, College of Charleston, Oral Roberts, Seattle U., Utah State, Weber State, and Western Illinois are scheduled to compete.

"It is a fairly strong field this week," Curran said. "Since the tournament is only 36 holes, getting off to a good start is a must."

In the spring, the Wolverines won the Battle in the Tetons and finished second at the Palouse Collegiate and Firestone Grill Intercollegiate.

"We are coming off our best start in school history. Last fall proved to the guys that we can be competitive every time we tee it up," Curran said. "We are hoping to continue that momentum into the spring. We have a new-found confidence this season. The guys love the feeling of being in contention going into the final round. We seem to thrive on it."

The Wolverines will play the first 18 Monday and close out the tournament on Tuesday with the final 18.

"The guys are very excited to get the season started," Currant said. "They are playing with a lot of confidence right now. We will have one of our best (Joey Olson) out of the lineup for the first few tournaments due to injury. Hoping some of the young guys can step up and be impact players for us."

Following the SUU Pat Hicks, the Wolverines will jump back in action Feb. 27-28 at the Snowman Getaway Invitational in Goodyear, Ariz.

Jay Hinton is a sports information assistant at Utah Valley University