Red Raider Golf Advances to NCAA Championships
May 16, 2009
LUBBOCK, Texas - For the third time in the last four years and the fourth time in head coach Greg Sands' nine seasons, Texas Tech is heading to the NCAA Men's Golf Championships. The No. 17 Red Raiders finished second at the NCAA Southwest Regional in Austin on Saturday, holding off host Texas by one stroke and trailing region winner Florida by two strokes.
The Red Raiders' second-place showing is the highest in school history in postseason competition, and a spot ahead of the 2006 squad's third-place finish in the NCAA East Regional. By finishing among the top five the Red Raiders advance to the NCAA Championships at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, May 26-30. The appearance will be the eighth overall in the program's history. Joining Texas Tech from the Southwest Regional are Florida, Texas, Stanford and Michigan.
"It never gets old, for sure," Sands said, referring to playing in the NCAA Championships. "This is the hardest tournament, I think, all year. It's almost like you're starting over after the regular season. Under the pressure our guys did well. It's a testament to their hard work."
Early in Tech's final round, Mother Nature enforced a three-hour delay. "The weather was good for the first three holes," Sands added. "We caught the brunt of the storm with Texas and Florida and were playing in the teeth of the wind. It was calm on the backside and it became a three-horse race. I'm proud of the way the guys played through and handled it."
Sophomore Chris Ward finished the tournament in third place at 2-over 215, after carding an even-par 71 Saturday. Ward's finish is the highest in school history in regional competition. Additionally, sophomore Nils Floren tied in fourth place with a 3-over 216. The previous record was a tie for fifth by Floren's brother, Oscar, a three-time Red Raider All-American, at the 2006 NCAA East Regional in Orlando, Fla.
Senior Garrett Merrell tied in 18th place, while redshirt freshman Brian Scherer tied in 28th place. Merrell finished the tournament with a 9-over 222, while Scherer carded an 11-over 224 in his second event of the spring. Senior Santiago Rivas tied in 54th place with a 19-over 232.
Texas' Lance Lopez led wire-to-wire and claimed medalist honors with a 4-under 209. He was the only player to shoot under par and won the event by five strokes.
No. 8 Florida (874) shot 10-over in the final round to narrowly take the team title. The Red Raiders, Gators and Longhorns each held onto the top spot during the final round. Tech (876) overcame No. 24 Texas (877) on the final two holes as the Longhorns carded a double-bogey and bogey, while Tech was 1-over on 17 and 18.
No. 5 Stanford (887) finished fourth and No. 45 Michigan (888) fifth to advance to the NCAA Championships. No. 41 Lamar (891), No. 30 UNLV (892), No. 49 Texas-Arlington (893), No. 32) California (896), Mississippi State (901), New Mexico State (909), Virginia Tech (910) and Jackson State (992) did not advance.
The top five teams from the regional will advance to the NCAA Championships at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, May 26-30. This year's format differs from the past as the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Committee changed the format for 2009 with the individual champion determined after 54 holes of play and the top eight teams moving on to a final day of match play. The team with the lowest score after three rounds will play the team with the eighth-lowest score, No. 2 will play No. 7 and so on until a national champion is determined.