Arizona State Men's Golf (ASU photo)
RALEIGH, NC (May 15, 2018) - Arizona State head coach Matt Thurmond called the Raleigh Regional a “brutal regional.” And it lived up to that assessment this week. Host North Carolina State was the sixth seed. Nearby Duke was the fifth seed. Both advanced. Inclement weather threatened to shorten the event to 36 holes, though it eventually held off. And the top two seeds, Georgia Tech and California, failed to advance.
Of course, Thurmond’s Sun Devils were one of the reasons the top-seeded Yellow Jackets didn’t finish in the top 5. (Georgia Tech is the third No. 1 seed in regional history to not make it out of regionals.)
Sun Devils sophomore Chun An Yu and Yellow Jackets sophomore Tyler Strafaci were playing in the same group on Wednesday. Entering their final hole, the par-4 ninth, Georgia Tech held a one-shot lead over Arizona State. But Strafaci missed the fairway and ended up making bogey, setting the stage for Yu to make an 8-footer for birdie to send the Sun Devils through.
Yu’s final-round 2-under 69 left him T-5 on the individual leaderboard. Alex del Rey shot 6-under 65 for Arizona State to climb to T-26.
“I’ve been in a lot of regionals now in my career and this one will go down as maybe the most intense and most dramatic,” Thurmond said. “Yesterday we thought we were done. The weather report was looking bad, lightning in the area … and there were expectations that we would not play today. We had just finished poorly on the final hole and were in sixth place, a couple strokes out, and we thought we had blown it and we felt everything that that meant. We felt that our season was over, that we had not come through and then somehow we got some energy as the night went on, the weather report got a little bit better, they moved up the tee times and before you know it we’re back out there playing with nothing to lose and a new lease on life.”
Georgia Tech now fails to advance to the NCAA Championship by just one shot for the second straight season. The Yellow Jackets barely missed out last year at the Stanford Regional.
“It’s all very disappointing,” Georgia Tech head coach Bruce Heppler said. “It was the same scenario as last year when we were in it for 5 hours and 4 minutes and lost it on the last hole, and we lost it on the last hole again. But you go back and look at the week, and we just didn’t play well enough. The regular season is the regular season, and when you come to these things, you’ve got to be ready to go, and our last two rounds were not good enough to advance. We had chances in the second and third rounds, but we just didn’t get it done. So now the guys will go home and work over the summer, and we’ll come back in August and see what we can make of ourselves.”
Augusta is heading back to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2011 when it won its second of two straight NCAA titles, at Karsten Creek. The 12th-seeded Jaguars shot 14 under in the final round, making 16 birdies on the back nine, to jump four spots on the leaderboard. Broc Everett finished runner-up individually. “What a day,” Augusta head coach Jack O’Keefe said. “We had to clutch up on the last day and we sure did. My hat is off to the guys in a total team effort. We’re excited to obviously be going back to Stillwater … and we’re going to try and use those vibes and the vibes from today to carry forward and see what we can do.”
Texas, the No. 3 seed, cruised to the team title behind individual champion Doug Ghim, who won by three shots to win his second straight event.
Host and sixth-seeded North Carolina State also advanced. That last time N.C. State made it to the NCAA Championship as a team was 2011 at Karsten Creek.
Nyholm advanced after beating Middle Tennessee State’s Marcus Byrd and Missouri’s Hayden Buckley on the third playoff hole.
Cal failed to advance as the No. 2 seed, as did Bears junior Collin Morikawa, who was a Haskins Award contender.
The folowing teams and individual advanced to the NCAA Championship:
- Texas, Duke, North Carolina State, Augusta, Arizona State
- Pontus Nyholm, Campbell
ROUND TWO RECAP
When looking at Duke teams in recent years, the word balance always comes to mind. This season 11 golfers have teed it up in tournaments for the Blue Devils. Junior Alex Smalley and sophomore Chandler Eaton played in all 10 events and rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in scoring average at 70.67 and 71.83. Eaton and senior Adam Wood each shared the individual title at the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate last month while Smalley leads the squad in top-5s (five).
“One of the cool things about this team is that nobody shoulders the burden,” Duke head coach Jamie Green said. “It’s not like there’s one guy out there that says ‘If I don’t play well, the team is going to struggle.’ They all know that their teammates from shoulder to shoulder can go just as low as they can.”
Tuesday was a prime example as the Blue Devils, the fifth seed in the Raleigh Regional, shot 12-under 272 to vault seven spots up the leaderboard. The round of the day left Duke at 15 under and in a tie with top-seeded Georgia Tech for third. The Blue Devils are more importantly six shots clear of sixth-place Arizona State.
Senior Jake Shuman shot 7-under 64, the best round by a Duke player this season, to pace his team while freshman Evan Katz added a 68 after opening in 73. The other three Duke players all shot 70 on Tuesday.
But Duke wasn’t the only team to make a run in Round 2. Liberty shot 7 under and climbed two spots to fifth. The Flames had three players shoot 69 on Tuesday, including Gabe Lench, who is T-11 on the individual leaderboard to lead seventh-seeded Liberty.
The Flames have made just one NCAA Championship in school history, at Riviera in 2012.
Texas senior Doug Ghim continues to leader after a 5-under 66 moved him to 12 under. He leads North Carolina State’s Ben Shipp by a shot. The Longhorns lead the Wolfpack by eight in the team race.
That last time N.C. State made it to the NCAA Championship as a team was 2011, when the championship was played at Karsten Creek, this year’s host.
There were two substitutions made on Tuesday. Cal’s Finigan Tilly subbed in for Ben Doyle, who shot 4-over 75 Monday, and carded a 77. Campbell’s Max Theodorakis shot 73 after filling in for Thomas LaMorte (76).
Speaking of Cal, the second-seeded Bears are in trouble entering the final round. Cal is in 11th place at 1 over and is 12 shots back of fifth-place Liberty. Junior Collin Morikawa, a Haskins Award contender and finalist for the Hogan Award, is T-14 individually, but is behind five players whose teams are not currently in the top 5.
Middle Tennessee State is seventh and just four shots back of Liberty. The Blue Raiders haven’t made it to the NCAA Championship since 2008.
ROUND ONE RECAP
Doug Ghim, a senior from Arlington Heights, IL, shot a 7-under 64 to take the individual lead and help give the Texas Longhorns a three-shot first-round advantage in the NCAA East Regional at Lonnie Poole Golf Course at NC State.
Three other Longhorns shot in the 60s on Monday, including 69s from Scottie Scheffler, Spencer Soosman and Steven Chervony. Their 271 (-13) total puts them three ahead of Georgia Tech.
The Yellowjackets had all five players shoot under par in round one, led by Tyler Strafaci, Luke Schniederjans and Chris Petefish with 3-under 68s. Noah Norton and Andy Ogletree shot 1-under 70.
Tournament hosts North Carolina State are in third at 9-under 275, four shots behind Texas. Stephen Franken, who last week was named the ACC player of the year, shot a 65, while Benjamin Shipp added a 67 and Easton Paxton shot an even-par 71. All three come into the tournament in good form, advancing through U.S. Open Local Qualifying last week.
Arizona State and Santa Clara are tied for fourth at 8-under 276, five shots back.
Scores were low in the first round, with 22 rounds in the 60s and more than half the field (46 players) shooting rounds of par or better. 13 of the 14 teams had a player shoot in the 60s.
Justin Burkhamer, a freshman at Iona College, matched Ghim's 64 and is tied for the individual lead.
The top 5 teams will advance to the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, OK.
Round two will be played Tuesday, with the final round Wednesday.