OREM, Utah — The Utah Valley University men's golf team will open the 2013 spring season Monday at the Ninth Annual Pat Hicks Thunderbird Invitational hosted by Southern Utah University.

The 36-hole event will be contested at the par 72, 6,879-yard Sunbrook Golf Club in St. George. The competitors will play The Pointe and Woodbridge.

"After a long winter break we are ready to compete again," UVU coach Chris Curran said. "We are going to build off the things that went well for us during the fall."

The Wolverines had two top 10 team finishes by finishing in a tie for third at the Battle in the Tetons and second at the Dash Memorial. Both tournaments were contested in the state of Idaho.

In addition to UVU and host Southern Utah, Boise State, Cal Poly, Cal State Bakersfield, College of Charleston, Denver, Dixie State, Idaho, Northern Colorado, Oral Roberts, Seattle, Utah State and Weber State will compete in the event.

"This winter has been very challenging. We haven't been able to play a round of golf outside without going to St. George," Curran said. "Hopefully we can knock off the rust quickly and play well."

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UVU's Mason Casper collected his first-ever collegiate victory in this event in 2010. The same year, the Wolverines finished third behind College of Charleston and Dixie State.

"We have high expectations this spring with our main goal to win conference and move on to NCAA regionals," Curran said.

Cal State Fullerton won the event last year.

The final 18 holes will be contested Tuesday.

Casper lead the team in scoring average at 72.42, followed by Corey Eccles (74.79), Stratton Schulz (75.44), Brayden Eriksen (78.00) and Preston Richards (79.33).

Following the Pat Hicks Invitational, the Wolverines will travel to the Snowman Getaway in Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 25-26.

Jay Hinton is a sports information assistant at Utah Valley University.