UCLA, Penn State, Virginia Also Advance
Enoch Going to Finals Without Team
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Kent State and Texas tied for the top spot while UCLA, Penn State and Virginia also advanced to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships in that order after the final round of the three-day NCAA Regional hosted by Yale University and The Course at Yale. Those five teams join 25 others from five other regionals at the June 1-6 NCAA Championships at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The Golden Flashes and Longhorns, who were tied after two rounds, both finished -5 (835) after shooting 280 today. Kent State earned the share of the regional crown with some impressive shot making, including junior Brett Cairns chipping in for birdie on the 18th hole.
This was the fourth time Texas, a two-time national champion, has won or shared the team title at an NCAA regional and the first time since 2000. The Golden Flashes, who have never won a national title, have advanced to 13 national championship tournaments since 1954, the last coming in 2008. KSU, which has dominated the Mid-American Conference over the last 10 years, won its 1993 and 2001 regional on the way to the championship tournament.
UCLA (836) was one stroke back followed by Penn State (837) and Virginia (843). East Tennessee State and Charlotte were one shot from tying for the fifth spot. Both schools had a 278 today and finished at 844 over the three days.
Very little was decided until the final holes of the day, and all South Carolina needed on its last hole of the day was a bogey from its top player, Wesley Bryan, to qualify for its fourth NCAA Championship event in five years. Bryan, who needed a par on that No. 9 to finish with a 65 today and send his team on, ended up taking a nine after putting his drive a few feet from the edge of the pond on the 213-yard par 3 beauty. The top Gamecock could have been the individual medalist with a par on that hole.
UCLA had its best round of the tournament today with a 273 to finish -4 and place third.
“Mario’s [Clemens] birdies on 12 and 13 helped us go from even to under par. That got us flowing, sort of off high center,” said UCLA head coach Derek Freeman, who saw his freshman (Clemens) sink a 16-foot birdie putt from the fringe of the 18th green.
One player not on the five advancing teams advances to The Honors Course. East Tennessee State’s Rhys Enoch, who finished at -7 after a 70 today, was the individual qualifier. He tied with Penn State’s T.J. Howe as overall individual medalist with a 203.
“I had a bit of a slow start. I tried to stay patient. After I birdied six and eagled seven, I knew I was playing well,” said Enoch, the junior who holed a wedge from 83 yards out for the two on No. 7.
Conditions on the world famous venue got tougher each day, but almost every coach and player appreciated its layout.
“The Course reminds me of home,” said Enoch, from Cornwall, England. “The greens are very tricky. A lot of holes suit my eye and are fun to play. The course requires draws, fades, high shots and low ones. It’s a good test.”
Freeman took it a step further.
“I love this course because it demands everything from your golf game. You have to drive it well, be precise with your irons and be wonderful with your putter to score well. It is everything a golf course should be,” said the UCLA coach.
Recap and Cairns image filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director