Texas Tech Claims NCAA South Central Regional Title|
LUBBOCK, Texas - Texas Tech claimed its first NCAA Regional title in school history on Saturday, firing a 3-under 285 while outlasting top-seed Texas A&M in the final round of the South Central Regional at the Traditions Club in College Station, Texas.
Tech's second tournament victory of the season could not have come at a better time as the 10th-ranked Red Raiders will now have a favorable seed at the NCAA Championships, held June 1-6 at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.
"Advancing was the goal, but I think that good teams try to win and advancing takes care of itself," said head coach Greg Sands, who will be leading the Red Raiders to the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in the last five seasons. "We set our sights on being in contention and we were fortunate to play well today and have a few things go our way. We hadn't beaten A&M all year. We had a couple of close tournaments where we were one or couple behind them, but it was really neat to see the guys compete and win."
Despite playing on the 3rd-ranked Aggies' home course, Tech made just enough birdies to outlast A&M's 1-under-par day and a couple Tech bogies on the 18th hole. The Red Raiders finished 13-under-par as a team, defeating Texas A&M by a single stroke.
After a bogie on the day's first hole, Chris Ward led the way for Tech as he had a par or better on the final 17 holes, finishing 4-under on the day and in a five-way tie for fifth place with teammates Nils Floren and Finley Ewing IV at 5-under for the tournament. The trio attempted 211 shots on the weekend, matching Andrew Dresser (2003) for the lowest three-round score at an NCAA Regional.
Floren and Ewing continued their strong play from the previous two rounds with both firing 1-under 71 cards. Matt Smith finished in a tie for 20th place after shooting 3-over on the day and 2-over for the tournament. Tech's other player, Tyler Weworski, finished 9-over for the tournament after shooting a 3-over 75 Saturday.
Prior to the weekend, no Tech team had shot a score lower than 873 at the regional round. The Red Raiders fired 851 shots, over 20 less than the previous record set by the 2006 squad.
"You always try to convince your team that they are good. When you do something like this, you don't have to talk them into anything," Sands said. "They know we did something that was pretty neat. In my mind, A&M is probably the best team in the country, and for sure the deepest team. So for us to win here can only boost our confidence."
TCU (-6) and North Florida (-5) were the only other two schools under par, while Baylor (+5) earned the last automatic bid into the NCAA Championships following a playoff with Georgia. Russell Henley of Georgia won the individual title at 9-under-par.