The fourth-seeded South Carolina men’s golf team punched its ticket to the NCAA Championship for a second-straight year with a fifth-place finish in the NCAA Eugene Regional at Eugene Country Club on Saturday.
The Gamecocks shot a final-round 301 (+21) to wrap up the week with a 54-hole total of 880 (+40), finishing five strokes ahead of North Florida and Chattanooga for the fifth and final spot to the NCAA Championship. South Carolina will be making a second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship for the first time since advancing back-to-back in 2006 and 2007.
“It was just a really tough day for our kids,” South Carolina head coach Bill McDonald said. “There was a lot of pressure on these guys, about as much pressure as they are ever going to feel in college golf. Trying to advance through regional play with the way we do things is just a very difficult thing to do. I’m extremely proud of the guys. It was just an extremely tough day, and thank goodness we found a way to pull it out at the end.”
The course was a tremendous challenge for the entire field on Saturday, as just three golfers turned in rounds under par and only one team was below 10-over par. The average score for the round was more than five strokes over par at 75.52.
Sophomore Will Starke earned his second-straight top-20 finish at a regional as he shot a final-round 77 (+7) to tie for 16th with a total of 217 (+7). Starke came up big down the stretch, sinking a birdie putt on the par-4 17th to help the Gamecocks create some separation coming into the clubhouse.
Freshman Ben Dietrich finished the week in a tie for 22nd with a total of 220 (+10) after shooting a final-round 75 (+5). Dietrich made a huge impact on the final result on the par-4 18th, hitting his approach shot to within five feet and then sinking the putt for birdie.
Junior Caleb Sturgeon saved his best round of the week for Saturday when the Gamecocks needed it the most. A native of Laurens, S.C., Sturgeon posted a solid 2-over 72 to finish the week in a tie for 22nd with a total of 220 (+10). He played the front side at even par with one birdie and one bogey and turned in a 2-over 38 on the back nine with two bogeys and seven pars.
Sophomore Matt NeSmith carded a 77 (+7) on Saturday to finish tied for 36th with a total of 223 (+13). Rounding out the lineup, junior Will Murphy turned in an 82 (+12) to finish 58th with a total of 230 (+20).
Top-seeded Stanford held off host Oregon to win the regional with a total of 853 (+13). The Ducks finished second with a total of 854 (+14), followed by Oklahoma (860) and Houston (875). Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers earned medalist honors with a total of 204 (-6).
The Gamecocks will open play at the NCAA Championship on May 23 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan. A total of 30 teams will play three days of stroke play (May 23-25) before the field is cut to eight teams for two days of match play (May 27-28). The top 40 individuals and ties will compete in a fourth day of stroke play on May 26 to determine the individual national champion. The Golf Channel will air live coverage of the event on May 26-28.
SOUTH CAROLINA RESULTS
T16. Will Starke (3) 68-72-77=217 (+7)
T22. Caleb Sturgeon (4) 74-74-72=220 (+10)
T22. Ben Dietrich (5) 72-73-75=220 (+10)
T36. Matt NeSmith (1) 72-74-77=223 (+13)
58. Will Murphy (2) 74-74-82=230 (+20)
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. Stanford 276-282-295=853 (+13)
2. Oregon 289-280-285=854 (+14)
3. Oklahoma 280-287-293=860 (+20)
4. Houston 290-293-292=875 (+35)
5. South Carolina 286-293-301=880 (+40)
T6. North Florida 286-297-302=885 (+45)
T6. Chattanooga 295-292-298=885 (+45)
T8. Liberty 295-297-297=889 (+49)
T8. ETSU 296-293-300=889 (+49)
10. Baylor 294-304-295=893 (+53)
11. Tennessee 299-292-303=894 (+54)
12. Wichita State 295-312-304=911 (+71)
13. Northern Colorado 307-304-311=922 (+82)
The College of Charleston men’s golf team closed out its memorable season ninth on the final day of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Southwest Regional Championship held at Briggs Ranch Golf Club.
Junior Zach Munroe (Charlotte, N.C.) was the Cougars’ top finisher at the 54-hole tournament with a three-round, even-par scorecard of 70-71-75—216 which tied for 12th.
In his final career outing, senior Alex Ellis (Austin, Texas) tied for 40th (+7) followed by sophomores John Jonas (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Josh Lorenzetti (Columbia, S.C.) tied for 43rd at +8. Freshman William Rainey (Charlotte, N.C.), the youngest player in CofC’s lineup, tied for 59th (+11).
This was the Cougars’ first NCAA Regional appearance since 2003 as they claimed a conference title in their inaugural year as members of the Colonial Athletic Association.
“It was a fantastic year,” CofC Head Coach Mark McEntire said. “The NCAA Regional was a great experience for our team and players – one that we needed for the future of our program. When we get back next year, we will know what to do. I’m proud of Zach (Munroe), but sad we are losing Alex (Ellis). But, we are extremely excited about the future, because the future is bright.”
The average score during the final round was 75.29. Munroe tied for the most eagles of the tournament (2), while Ellis made the seventh-most pars (36).
“The conditions were very tough today,” McEntire said. “The wind blew every day of the tournament. We were able to watch all of the teams finish down the stretch, and from an experience standpoint, this tournament was invaluable. It’s also good motivation for the summer and helps us get back and ready for next year.”
No. 6-ranked and top-seeded Georgia was one of five teams to advance from the San Antonio Regional to contend for a national title at next week’s 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship to be hosted by Wichita State at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
The Bulldogs finished at 11-under followed by No. 43 Georgia State in second (+2), No. 19 Vanderbilt in third (+3), No. 31 SMU in fourth (+4) and No. 18 UCLA in fifth (+5). Julien Brun of TCU advanced as the top individual winning medalist honors with a 10-under 206.
Eight Top-50-ranked teams made up the regional field with three not advancing to nationals. The Cougars made their second-highest finish of their four all-time NCAA Regional appearances behind 2001, where they placed fourth at the NCAA East Regional hosted by Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla.
Southern California and California both played the 17th hole five shots better than Clemson late in Saturday’s final round to keep the Tigers from advancing to the National Championship Tournament. The Tigers finished with a 898 score and a sixth-place standing in the 14-team regional field at Rich Harvest Farms Golf Club in Sugar Grove, Ill. The top five teams advance to the National Championship Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan.
Illinois won the tournament with an 880 score, while UAB finished second at 882. Purdue, ranked 45th in the nation entering the tournament, finished third with an 894 score, 30 over par.
Southern California (#16 in the nation) and California (#4 team nationally) tied for fourth place with scores of 32-over par 896, just two shots better than the Tigers, who were in third place after each of the first two rounds. It was a tough finish to accept for Clemson Head Coach Larry Penley, whose team was above the cutline for 90 percent of the three-day 54-hole tournament.
“Our players are hurting, and I am hurting,” said Penley. “It is difficult to accept, but getting off to a bad start caught up with us. We had a bad start again today playing the first hole in six over par for our counters. And the drives were in the middle of the fairway. I know we had some mud balls, but you have to overcome that.”
For the three days, Clemson played its first nine holes of the day in 28 over par and the final nine holes just six over par.
“We got it back together and played even par for the middle of the round, then we did not play well down the stretch. We are a young team and we will learn from this. It is just real difficult right now.”
Clemson played three sophomores and two freshmen this week and this team was attempting to be the first in Clemson history to reach the National Championship Tournament without a junior or senior in the regional lineup. Clemson was in third place after each of the first two rounds and stood in third place eight shots ahead of the cutline with six holes to play on Saturday.
“We just counted too many big scores,” said Penley. “That was our problem this week, we did not stay away from the big numbers. We counted two triple bogeys and two double bogeys today. And we missed the cut by just two shots.”
One of the bright spots for Clemson was freshman Carson Young, who was Clemson’s best player for the third straight day. Clemson’s number-four player for most of the season shot a round of three over par 75 on Saturday and finished in sixth place individually with a score of 220.
Young, a native of Pendleton, SC, became just the fourth Clemson freshman to finish in the top 10 of an NCAA Regional. He joins Kyle Stanley, Gregg Jones and Richard Coughlan in that exclusive club.
Clemson had four players finish in the top 25 for the weekend in the 75-player tournament. Stephen Behr finished with a 76 on Saturday and finished in 23rd place for the 54 holes with a 226 score. Cody Proveaux and Austin Langdale were tied for 25th with 227 scores. Proveaux had an 80 and Saturday and Langdale had a 78. He had two triple bogeys and played the other 16 holes at even par.
Miller Capps was a counter today with a 78 and his 236 score for the weekend was good enough for 50th place.
Sugar Grove Regional Results
May 15-17, 2014
1. Illinois 880, 2. UAB 882, 3. Purdue 894, 4. Southern Cal and California 896, 6. Clemson 898, 7. Kent State 900, 8. Jacksonville State 907, 9. UNLV 912, 10. Cleveland State 920, 11. Fullerton State 937, 12. Mississippi State 939, 13. New Mexico State 945, 14. St. Peter’s 990
6. Carson Young 72-73-75/220, 23. Stephen Behr 77-73-76/226 226, 25. Cody Proveaux 74-73-70/227 and Austin Langdale 76-73-78/ 227, 50. Miller Capps 79-79-78/ 236.