The best of men’s college golf will convene at six regional sites from May 15-17 to decide the 30-team field competing for a National Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ. Each regional will be conducted over 54 holes of stroke play to decide the advancing teams and six individuals.
But among the 81 teams fighting for a spot include breakouts, top dogs, teams with new identities and talented players trying to secure their futures.
Here are a few of the biggest storylines heading into the 2023 Division I Men’s Golf Regionals.
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Is it Illinois time?
With seven team wins in their last 11 starts and no finish worse than third, Illinois has quickly entered the national contender conversation. From a 20th-ranked team that couldn’t advance out of the 2022 regionals to a legitimate title threat, the about-face of Mike Small’s crew has been nothing short of impressive. Led by fifth-year seniors Adrien Dumont de Chassart and Tommy Kuhl, the team combines for a scoring average of 69.94 – just behind No. 1 Vanderbilt.
But this team is arguably the hungriest out there – searching for their first team championship in program history. And interestingly – Illinois is the only No. 1 seed who won its conference championship.
Commodores in command
There’s a greater-sized target on the backs of Vanderbilt this year, which has spent most of the season as the top-ranked team in the nation. Minus a conference title, Vanderbilt hasn’t missed a beat and was awarded the No. 1 seed at the Auburn Regional for their success. Led by reigning NCAA individual champion Gordon Sargent along with veterans William Moll, Cole Sherwood, Matthew Riedel and Reid Davenport, the time is now for the Commodores. Sargent hasn’t seen anything akin to a sophomore slump. In fact, he’s only gotten better, winning two events and placing no worse than 7th in each of his starts this season.
Cincinnati’s first trip
A breakout three-win season and a runner-up at their conference championship propelled Cincinnati to its first-ever regionals appearance at the Las Vegas Regional. It’ll be new territory for the Bearcats, who haven’t played a lot of desert golf – and are spending almost four days ahead of the first official practice round. “The key thing is getting used to the elevation as the ball goes a different distance as the temperature changes,” said head coach Doug Martin. “We have a lot of stuff to do to get ready.”
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Related: The Road to Grayhawk: Previewing the NCAA Men's Regionals
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New-look finalists – can they get it done again?
Last year’s finalists Arizona State and Texas gave us an intense final and though the championship closer Travis Vick remains, losing the Coody twins (Parker and Pierceson) and Cole Hammer has changed the look of the Longhorns from a year ago. In the season that followed, the defending champions failed to capture any team titles and slipped to the No. 15th in the national rankings. While Vick and Mason Nome are leading the charge, freshmen Jacob Sosa, Christiaan Maas, Tommy Morrison and Keaton Vo make up one of the most talented freshmen classes in the nation and have the Longhorns poised for future title runs.
Arizona State, on the other hand, saw the departures of David Puig, Cameron Sisk and Mason Anderson. Still, the leadership of Ryggs Johnston and rising stars Preston Summerhays and Luke Potter have kept the Sun Devils near the top of the rankings. They have won once this season, but success against a tough schedule landed them the No. 1 seed at the local Las Vegas Regional.
Are the rebuilt Waves cresting at the right time
Pepperdine head coach Michael Beard had a lot of work to do last offseason. After leading the Waves to the national championship in 2021 and a semifinal appearance last season, Beard was tasked with replacing senior stalwarts Joe Highsmith and Joey Vrzich along with Dylan Menante, who transferred to North Carolina. With the addition of transfers Sam Choi, Luke Gifford and Roberto Nieves joining holdovers William Mouw and Derek Hitchner, the Waves won The Prestige in February, the Western Intercollegiate in April along with the West Coast Conference Championship and finished no lower than third in five other events. For their success, the Waves were awarded the top seed at the Morgan Hill Regional.
Warm-ups at U.S. Open qualifying
Regionals are a big deal, but a first stop for many was a U.S. Open qualifier. Among the names advancing to final qualifying include Ludvig Aberg (Texas Tech), Jack Wall (Texas Tech), Fred Biondi (Florida), Julian Perico (Arkansas), Rasmus Neergard-Peterson (Oklahoma State), Lance Simpson (Tennessee), Tyler Johnson (Tennessee), Jackson Van Paris (Vanderbilt), Taehoon Song (Washington), Garrett Barber (LSU), Ryggs Johnston (Arizona State), Cole Anderson (Florida State), Mason Nome (Texas), Ian Gilligan (Long Beach State), Dylan McDermott (Colorado) and Wilson Andress (Georgia Southern).
Illinois fifth-year Tommy Kuhl was at the center of a tough but honest decision. A comment made by a teammate about aerated greens made him realize he had been fixing aeration marks and he self-disqualified after carding a 62
PGA Tour U races remain hotter than ever
A PGA Tour card for first place, and two accelerated cards on the horizon? The implications for life after college are only getting more substantial – and not just for the seniors on the PGA Tour U list. Though Ludvig Aberg appears to be in sole possession of the number one spot, challengers Fred Biondi and Sam Bennett aren’t too far behind. And the underclassmen have a red-hot race of their own – Player of the Year awards, the NCAA individual race – all strongly influence where Gordon Sargent and Michael Thorbjornsen stand, who are only just seven points outside of the required 20 needed for a PGA Tour card.
ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Championship
30 teams and 6 individuals not on a qualifying
team make up the field for the championship of
Division I women's golf.
After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual
champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance
match play to determine the team champion.
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