Wild Finish Sends UVa Men's Golfers to NCAA Championships
• Golfweek.com Recap
New Haven, CT – An unbelievable finish at the NCAA East Regional Championship in New Haven, Conn. allowed the 19th-ranked Virginia men’s golf team to place fifth in the 14-team field and claim the final qualifying spot for this year’s NCAA championships.
The top five teams from six regional sites advance to the national championships.
Having completed their final round Saturday, the Cavaliers found themselves in sixth place at 3-over 843, two shots behind South Carolina which had one competitor left on The Course at Yale.
All the Gamecocks needed on their final hole, the par-3 ninth, was a bogey from their top player, Wesley Bryan, to clinch fifth place and the final spot from the field for the NCAAs. Bryan was 6-under par on the day as he prepared to hit his final tee shot.
“Our players were a little upset, so they went to the clubhouse to get something to eat and I walked over to the ninth hole to watch South Carolina finish up,” said Virginia head coach Bowen Sargent.
What Sargent witnessed was Bryan card a 6-over nine on the hole to drop him to even par 70 and push the Gamecocks back to eighth place.
“It was incredible,” Sargent said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I told our guys this morning to expect the unexpected and darned if that didn’t hold up. I’m excited for our team to make it back to NCAAs for the third year in a row, but at the same time it was not the way I wanted to see us get through. It was very hard to watch. Wesley is a great player and a very good kid. I felt very bad for him and South Carolina’s team.”
Virginia shot 2-under 278 Saturday, its best round of the 54-hole tournament, to place fifth. Texas and Kent State tied for first at 5-under 835, UCLA was third at 836 and Penn State was fourth at 837. All four of those teams join UVa at the NCAA Championships schedule for June 1-6 at The Honors Course near Chattanooga, Tenn.
UVa’s final score of 843 was one shot ahead of East Tennessee State and Charlotte, which tied for sixth at 844.
For the second day in a row Henry Smart led UVa by shooting 2-under 68 to equal his low round as a collegiate. Smart placed 16th overall at 1-under 209. Despite a double-bogey on his final hole, Amory Davis posted a 69 Saturday while Kyle Stough finished at even par 70 and Ben Kohles and Will Collins shot 71.
Collins and Stough tied for 24th overall at 1-over 211 while Davis was 29th at 2-over 212. Kohles was 53rd at 218.
Stough, the lone senior in the lineup, will be playing in his third straight NCAA Championship. He came up big for Virginia during the final round, posting four birdies over his final six holes.
“It’s hard to point to just one or two holes when you play for three days, but Kyle’s finish was instrumental in us advancing,” Sargent said. “I’m very happy he will get to end his career at the NCAAs.”
The Cavaliers will be making their third consecutive NCAA Championship appearance, having placed 27th in the 30-team field the past two years.
“Henry Smart was just unbelievable this week,” Sargent said. “And if you had told me we would not have counted Ben Kohles’ score a single round at the regional, I would have said there was no way we were going to get through. These guys just played very consistent this week and that was the key.”
NCAA East Regional
The Course at Yale
New Haven, CT
Par 70, 6,749 yards
1. Texas 274-281-280-835
1. Kent State 277-278-280-835
3. UCLA 282-281-273-836
4. Penn State 277-283-277-837
5. Virginia 282-283-278-843
6. East Tennessee State 278-288-278-844
6. Charlotte 285-281-278-844
8. South Carolina 286-285-275-846
9. Alabama 281-290-279-850
10. UNC Wilmington 286-280-285-851
11. SE Louisiana 288-285-283-856
12. Vanderbilt 285-283-290-858
13. Columbia 289-297-294-880
14. Lafayette 307-297-296-900
1. Rhys Enoch, East Tennessee St. 65-68-70-203
1. T.J. Howe, Penn State 69-68-66-203
3. Cody Gribble, Texas 64-71-69-204
4. Kevin Miller, Kent State 67-68-71-206
4. Kevin Foley, Penn State 67-67-72-206
6. George Bryan, South Carolina 71-70-66-207
6. Wesley Bryan, South Carolina 71-66-70-207
8. Lance Lopez, Texas 68-68-72-208
8. John Hahn, Kent State 69-72-67-208
8. Alex Kim, UCLA 67-70-71-208
8. Mario Clemens 71-70-67-208
8. Michael Stewart, East Tenn St. 69-73-66-208
8. Corey Nagy, Charlotte 71-71-66-208
8. Hudson Johnson, Vanderbilt 69-70-69-208
16. Henry Smart 73-68-68-209
24. Will Collins 69-71-71-211
24. Kyle Stough 71-70-70-211
29. Amory Davis 69-74-69-212
53. Ben Kohles 73-74-71-218
NCAA Championship Field By Regional Qualifiers
(Golfstat ranking in parenthesis)
Texas (7) 835
Kent State 835
UCLA (6) 836
Penn State 837
Virginia (19) 843
South Central Regional
Texas Tech (10) 851
Texas A&M (3) 852
TCU (25) 858
North Florida (22) 859
Stanford (2) 830
Florida State (15) 834
Florida (11) 838
Duke (23) 839
LSU 26) 847
Oklahoma State (4) 841
Clemson (20) 843
Georgia Tech (14) 845
Arizona State (9) 863
Georgia Southern 863
Oregon (1) 870
Augusta State (13) 880
California (34) 886
Tennessee (24) 886
UNLV (12) 886
Washington (5) 844
USC (8) 873
San Diego (27) 874
Oregon State (21) 876
Illinois (18) 877