COLUMBUS, Ohio — The 20th-ranked South Carolina men’s golf team punched its ticket to the NCAA Championship on Saturday afternoon as it tied for second place at the NCAA Columbus Regional at the Ohio State University Golf Club.
The Gamecocks posted a final-round 288 (+4) to wrap up the week in a tie with Auburn with a total of 872 (+20), earning their first championship trip since 2009 and the program’s 17th all-time. Carolina fell two strokes shy of regional champion New Mexico. The top-seeded Lobos finished first with a total of 870 (+18). This year’s NCAA Championship will be held May 28 through June 2 at the Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga.
“What a great week for our program,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “The guys really showed some strong character today and played a very good round under extreme pressure. Matt Nesmith’s round was incredible, and Dykes Harbin showed how great a leader he is with his play. Now on to Atlanta!”
NeSmith, the SEC Freshman of the Year, made a charge up the leaderboard to lead the way on Saturday. The North Augusta, S.C., native fired a 3-under 68 to climb 14 spots to finish in a tie for second with a total of 214 (+1). NeSmith now has seven top-10 finishes on the season, which moves him into a tie with Eirik Johansen, Kyle Thompson and David Seawell for the second most in a single season in school history. He trails only Fred Wadsworth, who recorded nine top-10 finishes in the 1983-84 season. New Mexico’s James Erkenbeck won medalist honors with a total of 210 (-3).
After beginning the round with three straight pars, NeSmith caught fire to birdie three of his next four holes to get to 3-under. He bogeyed the par-3 eighth to drop back to 2-under but gained the stroke back with a birdie on the 10th. He got to as low as 4-under on the day with a birdie on No. 14 before bogeying the 15th and 17th holes. However, he closed things out with his sixth birdie of the day on No. 18 to wrap up the round at 3-under.
Freshman Will Starke also played a key role in getting the Gamecocks to Atlanta as he finished in a tie for ninth with a total of 217 (+4). He posted a final-round 76 (+5) that included one birdie, four bogeys and a double bogey.
Harbin and sophomore Caleb Sturgeon saved their best round of the week for last as they both carded a 1-over 72 on Saturday. Harbin finished the tournament in a tie for 43rd with a total of 225 (+12), while Sturgeon tied for 25th with a total of 222 (+9).
After playing a very steady front nine that included just one bogey, Harbin made par on the first three holes on the back side before bogeying the par-3 13th to drop to 2-over. He responded with a birdie on No. 15 but gave the stroke right back with another bogey on the 16th. He then recorded a par on No. 17 and closed out his round in strong fashion with a birdie on the par-4 18th.
Sturgeon had an up and down front nine as he began the day with back-to-back bogeys. He scrapped his way back to even par with a birdie on the fourth and sixth holes but gave a stroke back with a bogey on the seventh on his way to making the turn with a 37 (+1). Although he was unable to record a birdie on the back nine, he made it through the side without a blemish, tallying nine consecutive pars to get into the clubhouse at 1-over.
Sophomore Sean Kelly turned in a final-round 77 (+6) to conclude the event in a tie for 48th with a total of 226 (+13). Kelly recorded one birdie, five bogeys and a double bogey on the afternoon.
UNLV claimed fourth place with a total of 878 (+26), and Texas Tech took fifth with a total of 879 (+27) to join the Gamecocks, New Mexico and Auburn in advancing to the NCAA Championship.
The NCAA Championship will feature three days of stroke play before the 30-team field is cut down to eight teams for three days of match play.
Alabama Rallies to Win Regional
BATON ROUGE, La. – The second-ranked Alabama men’s golf team shot the lowest round of the day by six shots to overtake Florida and win the 2013 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional on the par-72, 7,436-yard University Club of Baton Rouge on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide overcame an eight-shot deficit after 36 holes to beat the Gators by six strokes with a 6-under-par 282 on Saturday for a 4-over-par total of 868. UF carded an 8-over 296 in the final round to finish second at 10-over 274 while LSU vaulted up the leader board for a third-place showing at 26-over 890. The Tigers shot 5-over 293 in the final round.
Tennessee made it four teams from the SEC advancing to the NCAA Championships out of the Baton Rouge Regional with an even-par round on Saturday and a 28-over total of 892. Coastal Carolina secured the final NCAA berth with a 30-over 894. South Alabama and Houston finished tied for sixth at 896 to just miss the NCAAs.
It was Alabama’s seventh team victory of the year, setting a new school record for wins in a season. The top five teams and low individual not on an advancing team (Tyler Klava of South Alabama) earned a spot in the 30-team NCAA Championships that will be held at the Crabapple Course at the Capital City Club in Woodstock, Ga., on May 28-June 2.
“They did a really great job,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said of his team following Saturday’s final round. “We played really good all week. Looking back, we might have been a little rusty; we had not played a competitive round since SECs. This team never gave in, and I’m proud of them. You get in these regionals and your mindset is qualifying (for NCAAs), but their mindset was to run to the front today and it was a really special round.”
Senior Scott Strohmeyer won his first individual tournament title in the next-to-last event of his career. The Auburn, Ala., native carded a 3-under-par 69 in Saturday’s final round to beat teammate Bobby Wyatt by two shots at 4-under 212.
“Scott’s win really was special,” Sewell said. “We were clearly in the NCAAs and with three holes to go, I think I was more nervous than I have ever been. Those last three holes are really hard and Strohmeyer just played great. I’m really proud and happy for him. He works very hard, and he is a leader. He has always been dedicated to this game, and it is great that he gets this moment.”
The 212 was the second-lowest 54-hole total of Strohmeyer’s career after shooting 6-under 210 at the 2013 Aggie Invitational to finish third. He made three birdies in the first seven holes on Saturday at the University Club. A bogey on the ninth hole left him at 2-under at the turn. He made eagle on the par-5 11th hole to move to 4-under. Strohmeyer then made six straight pars before a bogey on the 18th.
Junior Bobby Wyatt carded the tournament’s low round on Saturday with a 6-under 66 that also marked his best round of the season. The Mobile, Ala., native finished runner-up for the second time in three events and the fifth time in his three years in Tuscaloosa. Wyatt began the day tied for 14th but made three birdies and a bogey on the front nine and four more birdies (10th, 12th, 13th, and 18th) on the backside to put a little pressure on his teammate.
“Bobby played spectacular golf,” Seawell said of Wyatt’s final round. “He always seems to have a teammate in front of him when he finishes second, but he is going to get his (chance to win) and I am looking forward to that.”
Alabama sophomore Justin Thomas also posted a top-10 finish with a tie for sixth at 2-over 218. He shot 1-over 73 on Saturday. Junior Cory Whitsett, who came into the event leading the team in scoring, finished tied for 30th at 11-over 227. It was the first time in seven events he has finished outside of the top 10. Trey Mullinax’s 75 was dropped from Alabama’s score in the final round and he finished tied for 37th individually.
The Crimson Tide advances to its 15th NCAA Championships, seventh under Seawell and third straight. UA posted the program’s best finish last season with a runner-up showing. The NCAA Championship format is three rounds of stroke play where at the conclusion they will crown a NCAA Individual Champion and cut the field to eight teams. At that point, the championship plays three rounds of match play to determine the NCAA team champion.
The SEC has a staggering nine teams advance to the NCAA Championships after 12 of the league’s 14 teams qualified for regionals. Along with Alabama, LSU, Florida and Tennessee, the league will send Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia and Texas A&M to the Crabapple Course in Woodstock, Ga.
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LSU Men Advance to NCAA Championships
BATON ROUGE – The 17th-ranked and No. 3-seeded LSU men’s golf team certainly took advantage of their opportunity to host the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional this weekend as they qualified for the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships for the third time in four seasons with a third-place team finish in Saturday’s final round at the University Club.
The Tigers are off to the NCAA Championships for the third time in four seasons following back-to-back trips in 2010 and 2011, while they have qualified for the 34th time in the program’s storied history.
After teeing off in Saturday’s final round in a tie for fifth place in the team standings, the Tigers posted their best team score of the tournament with a 5-over par 293 in the finale to climb two spots into third place with a 54-hole score of 26-over par 890 for the championship. It marked their best regional finish in the eight-year tenure of head coach Chuck Winstead.
The Tigers took fifth place at the NCAA Central Regional in 2010 and fourth place at the NCAA Blacksburg Regional in 2011 in their two previous NCAA Championships appearances under Winstead.
The second-ranked and No. 1-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide turned the tables on the 10th-ranked and No. 2-seeded Florida Gators in the final round to take home the regional title with a winning score of 4-over 868 as the top qualifier at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional. Alabama teed off Saturday facing an eight-shot deficit in the team race, but erased Florida’s lead with the lowest team score of the weekend at 6-under 282 to claim the team title with a winning score of 868. The Gators shot 8-over 296 on Saturday for a final score of 10-over 874.
No. 7 seed Tennessee took fourth place at 28-over 892 and No. 9 seed Coastal Carolina took fifth place at 30-over 894 as the top five teams in the final team standings earned their spot at the NCAA Championships.
Despite teeing off Saturday in third place and fourth place, respectively, South Alabama and Houston fell out of the top five in the final round and finished in a tie for sixth place with matching scores of 32-over par 896.
“We’ve had a pretty good year this year. We’ve played some pretty good golf throughout the year. I’m pleased that these guys were able to come out here these last two days and play well like they’ve done all year,” said LSU head coach Chuck Winstead. “You always have an advantage when you play the golf course a bunch, but at the end of the day you have to execute. Our guys did a better job of that the last two days.
“Our mindset today is what I’ve been preaching to the guys, to be as confident as you can be over every shot, over every putt, to be very confident about it. You’re going to get your best outcome that way.”
Junior All-SEC performer Andrew Presley guided the Tigers into the Top 5 of the final team standings and an NCAA Championships berth with a team-leading even-par 72 in the final round as he enjoyed his best career round in relation to par in his two regional appearances. Presley tied for 51st place in the final individual standings with his 54-hole score of 17-over par 233.
Presley rebounded in a big way from his 13-over 85 in Thursday’s opening round and 4-over 76 in Friday’s second round as the top Tiger in Saturday’s finale as he traded four birdies and four bogeys en route to a 72 for the day. After a rocky start with bogeys at the par-four first and par-five third holes, Presley bounced back with birdies at the par-four fourth, par-four seventh and par-three eighth holes to turn at 1-under par.
He then traded a bogey at the par-five 11th hole with a birdie at the par-four 12th hole before making bogey at the par-five 17th hole for an even-par score of 72 in his final round at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Presley recently earned his second-straight Second-Team All-SEC honor as he has proven himself as one of the SEC’s premier performers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
“This will be my first time, so I’m really excited about it,” Presley said of LSU’s return trip to the NCAA Championships. “I think we’ve built some confidence over the course of this season. Making it through here is a big confidence booster for us. I think we’ll play well at nationals. Our key today was finishing strong. We knew we had a little bit of a cushion coming down to the end, but still had to finish strong and qualify.”
Junior First-Team All-SEC selection Curtis Thompson earned his first career top-10 finish in a regional championship by tying for 10th place on the leaderboard at 4-over par 220 in three rounds at the University Club here this weekend. Thompson fired LSU’s lowest scores in the first and second rounds with a 3-over 75 on Thursday and a stellar 1-under 71 on Friday.
Thompson actually tied Presley for the team lead this season with his fifth top-10 finish on the campaign. He has also finished among the Top 20 of the leaderboard in 10 of his 12 tournament starts as a sophomore.
Fellow sophomore Stewart Jolly matched his performance from the second with a second-straight score of 1-over par 73 on Saturday to crack the Top 15 of the final leaderboard. Jolly scored his best career finish in the two regional starts as an LSU Tiger as he tied for 14th place overall with a 54-hole score of 6-over par 222 at the University Club.
Sophomore Myles Lewis finished with his lowest round of the tournament at 2-over 74 to tie for 24th place on the leaderboard at 9-over par 225, while freshman Zach Wright added a second-straight round of 3-over 75 in his finale to tie for 28th place overall at 10-over par 226 in his regional debut with the Tigers.
Alabama’s fifth-year senior Scott Strohmeyer was crowned the individual champion at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional after firing a 3-under 69 during Saturday’s action to overcome a two-shot deficit to Florida’s Day 2 leader TJ Vogel. Strohmeyer was one of just four players in the field to break par for 54 holes with his winning score of 4-under par 212 for three rounds.
Alabama teammate Bobby Wyatt made a late charge at the regional title as he fired the lowest round of the championship at 6-under 66 on Saturday to move up 12 spots into second place at 2-under par 214.
Vogel carded a 2-over 74 and Florida’s Tyler McCumber posted a 1-over 73 as the Gator teammates tied one another for third place on the leaderboard with matching three-round totals of 1-under 215. Tennessee star Oliver Goss also cracked the Top 5 of the final leaderboard in fifth place at even-par 216, including his 2-under 70 in Saturday’s final round.
South Alabama’s Tyler Klava earned an NCAA Championships berth as an individual as he was the top finisher on the leaderboard not among the top five teams in the final team standings.
After tying Georgia State’s Jonathan Grey for sixth place with matching scores of 2-over par 218 for 54 holes, Klava and Grey turned right around and played the 18th hole in a sudden-death playoff to determine which would advance to the NCAA Championships from the Baton Rouge Regional as the individual qualifier. Klava earned the right with his par as Grey was eliminated with a bogey on the first playoff hole.
The Tigers will return to action in less than two weeks as they tee off at the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships on Monday, May 27, as the Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga., will play host to the final event of the collegiate event for 2012-13. This year’s NCAA Championships will run through the national championship match on June 2.
Florida Punches Ticket to NCAAs
BATON ROUGE, La. – For the 13th consecutive year, which is the current longest streak in the nation, the University of Florida men’s golf team will advance to the NCAA Championships after finishing in second place at the NCAA South Regional in Baton Rouge, La. on Saturday, May 18. As a team, the Gators recorded an 874 (+10) for the three-round event at the University Club.
“I am proud of my guys,” head coach Buddy Alexander commented. “We had a great week, not too stressful. It was great to see T.J. Vogel play so well. It’s is great to see him back. Tyler McCumber did well and has been exceptional lately.”
Seniors Tyler McCumber (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) and T.J. Vogel (Cooper City, Fla.) were the team’s two lowest scorers for the regional tournament. Each player scored a 215 (-1) and tied for third place. For the third time this season McCumber finished an event at or under par, which leads the team. In addition, the senior captain has now finished in third place in two straight tournaments. Vogel registered his first event under par of the 2012-13 season and was one stroke shy of matching his season-best 54-hole score.
Sophomore Eric Banks (Truro, Canada) tied for 17th place after scoring a 224 (+8) at the par-72, 7,436 yard course. It marked Banks’ best tournament, relative to par, since the Chris Schenkel Invitational in March.
Fueled by a final-round 72 (E), senior Tommy Mou (Bradenton, Fla.) tallied a 228 (+12) in Baton Rouge. Mou tied for 34th place in his second regional tournament of his collegiate career.
Sophomore J.D. Tomlinson (Gainesville, Fla.) wrapped up the Gators’ lineup, finishing in 232 strokes (+16).
““You have to give credit to Alabama,” said Alexander. “They are a great team who have won six of seven starts this semester. When their No. 4 guy wins on a difficult course, you have to give them credit. At the end of the day though, it is always good to be going to the NCAA Championships.”
The Gators will be back in action on Tuesday, May 28 at the 2013 NCAA Championships in Woodstock, Ga. The national tournament will begin with three rounds of stroke play. The top-eight teams after stroke play will advance to match play, which will determine the winner of the team championship.
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Arkansas Advances to Nationals
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Senior Austin Cook’s 40-foot putt on No. 18 was two inches short of placing him in a tie for first place individually, but the No. 12 University of Arkansas men’s golf team did what it set out to do as it advanced to the NCAA Championships with a second-place finish at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Blessings Golf Club on Saturday.
The Razorbacks entered the final round with a one stroke lead over Illinois and after falling behind by as many as seven strokes, put together a big finish to pull within one as players began making their way up the 18th fairway. Illinois would ultimately prevail with a team score of one-under par for the 54-hole tournament while the Razorbacks shot two-over par. No. 4 Texas finished a distant third at 16-over par with No. 16 Oklahoma State (+18) and No. 28 Kent State (+28) also making the NCAA Championships field with top five team finishes.
“We advanced to the NCAA Championship and that is the most important thing from this week,” Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way that this team played. Over the three days we never counted a score above 74 which is nearly impossible to do on this course. Illinois deserved to win the team title because they also had a great tournament and made big shots down the stretch.”
Entering the final day with a share of the individual lead, Cook found himself in early trouble as he bogeyed two of the first three holes. He made the turn at four-over par after back-to-back bogeys on No. 8 and No. 9, but found his stroke on the more difficult back side of the course and played those nine holes bogey free with two birdies to finish his round at two-over par. Entering the par four, 18th, Cook was one stroke behind SMU’s Mario Clemens for individual medalist honors and his tee shot found a fairway bunker. Looking for a birdie, Cook hit his second shot to the middle of the green leaving him a 40-foot putt for birdie. His next shot was on line and stopped just two inches from the cup putting him in second place.
Rebounding from a difficult second day, sophomore Thomas Sorensen played nearly flawless golf on Saturday to finish the round at one-under par. Sorensen hit just a single bogey on the second hole of the day and sank a pair of birdie putts on No. 7 and No. 16 to arrive at his final score. The Dane was the only Razorback to shoot under par on Saturday and moved into a tie for 26th with the effort.
Freshman Nicolas Echavarria posted a score of two-over par, 74, on Saturday which included a chip in from the right side of the green on 18 in front of the gallery which excited the crowd. Echavarria opened with par and birdie on the first two holes before a double bogey on No. 3 moved him to one-over par. A birdie on No. 9 got him back to even par at the turn and he played the back nine at two-over par with four bogeys and two birdies. Echavarria’s 74 placed him in a tie for 14th with a score of 220, four-over par.
A third round of two-over par, 74, was carded by freshman Taylor Moore on Saturday to complete the Razorback scoring. Moore’s round included five birdies, five bogeys and a double bogey as he finished the regional tied for eighth with a score of 218, two-over par. Moore posted identical rounds of par 72 on Thursday and Friday before his two-over on Saturday. Three-over par at two different points, Moore was able to limit the damage and each time got his score back to one-over par before finally settling at two-over.
Junior Sebastian Cappelen’s par putt on No. 18 circled the cup before staying on the green for a tap in bogey and a final day score of 75, three-over par. Cappelen had a pair of birdies and bogeys on the front nine along with a double on the par four, sixth to make the turn at two-over par. He played better on the back nine with a birdie and two bogeys with six pars to achieve his final score. Cappelen’s three-day total of four-over par, 220 placed him in a tie for 14th.
The Razorbacks begin play at the NCAA Championships on Tuesday, May 28, at the Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga.
For more information regarding Razorback men’s golf or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Kentucky Men Conclude Season in Fayetteville
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Kentucky men’s golf team closed the 2013 NCAA Fayetteville Regional on Saturday, shooting a 16-over-par, 304. The Wildcats moved up one spot for the second consecutive day climbing into 10th place in the 54-hole stroke play event held at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
Illinois won the NCAA Regional Fayetteville Regional after overcoming a one stroke deficit entering the final round. The Fighting Illini fired a 1-over-par 289 on Saturday, beating Arkansas by four shots on the last day to shoot 863 (-1) and win by three strokes at the 54-hole tournament. Arkansas, who led going into the final 18 holes, fell to second place after a 4-over-par 293. Texas (+16), Oklahoma State (+18) and Kent State (+28) round out the top-5 to advance to the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship at the Capital City Club, Crabapple Course in Atlanta, Ga., May 28-June 2. SMU (+31) finished three strokes behind Kent State to finish 6th and narrowly miss the NCAA Championship.
The round of the day for UK came from senior Chase Parker, shooting even-par 72 in his final 18 holes as a Wildcat. The Augusta, Ga., native carded a blemish-free 2-under-par 35 on his inward nine. The sparkling final round capped a 9-over-par 225 for the week, good for a tie for 26th overall.
Junior Stephen Powers led Kentucky for the week, finishing in a tie for 21st at 224 strokes after a 5-over-par 77 on the final day. The Naperville, Ill., native continued his strong play on Saturday but posted double bogeys on the 3rd and 15th holes. Powers sank a team-high eight birdies and one eagle over the three days, including three birdies in his last round.
Junior Ben Stow improved his score for the second day in a row to post 3-over-par 75 and finished in a tie for 42nd. Stow posted three consecutive bogeys on his finishing three holes on the outward nine to turn at 3-over-par 38. Stow recovered and played well on the second nine, holing two birdies en route to an even-par 37 on the side to fire 75 on the day and 230 strokes total.
Cody Martin recorded 8-over-80 for the second day in a row on day, placing him in a tie for 58th place on the final leader board at 22-over-par. Martin struggled at the beginning of his round, taking triple bogeys on his 3rd and 5th holes. After bogeys on his 6th and 7th holes, The Union, Ky., native played his final 11 holes in even-par to conclude his junior season.
Sophomore Will Bishop highlighted his round with birdies on both par-5s on his outward nine to post 8-over-80 for the second time in three rounds and finished 63rd in the tournament at 26-over-par 242.
For more information on the University of Kentucky men’s golf team please visit UKathletics.com and follow on twitter @UKMensGolf.
Mississippi State Finishes 10th at Regionals
BATON ROUGE, La. – Mississippi State’s men’s golf team closed one of the best seasons in school history with a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional on Saturday.
Coach Clay Homan’s 23rd-ranked squad had its best round of the regional, carding a 9-over-par 297 to end the three-round event at The University Club with a 45-over 909.
“This is not the way we wanted the season to end, but we played hard until the end. We just didn’t play well enough this week,” Homan said. “We still have so much to be proud of because we accomplished an awful lot this year. I know we will be back in this position next year and will use this experience to out benefit in the future.”
Behind a roster that included just one senior in Robi Calvesbert, the Bulldogs wrapped a record-setting season that saw the squad claim a school-best four tournament wins.
Alabama shot a tournament-low 282 to claim the top spot with a 4-over 868.
Junior Joe Sakulpolphaisan carded his best round of the tournament Saturday, shooting an even-par 72 to finish the three-day event tied for 28th at 10-over 226. Fellow junior Barrett Edens shot a 2-over 74 on Saturday to finish tied for 30th, one stroke back of Sakulpolphaisan at 11-over (227).
Junior Chad Ramey finished the tournament tied for 40th at 14-over 230 after carding a 77 for the final round.
Axel Boasson carded a final-round 75 to finish the tournament tied for 51st with a 233 (+17). Calvesbert tied Boasson following a closing-round 76.