Lamar golf team opens NCAA Regional play Thursday
May 16, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. - With three seniors leading the way, the Lamar University men's golf team will open play Thursday in the 2012 NCAA Greensboro Regional with hopes of advancing to the NCAA Championships.
This is the 11th time in the last 12 years that Lamar has advanced to a regional tournament. The Cardinals, who earned the league's automatic berth after winning their 24th Southland Conference team title, last advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2007 when they tied for third in the nation.
The Greensboro Regional is one of three sites that will have 14 teams and five individuals competing. The other three sites have 13 teams and 10 individuals playing. The top five teams, along with the highest finishing individual not on one of those teams, will advance to the NCAA Championship which is set for May 29-June 3 at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
The 54-hole event will be played over three days at the par-72, 7,300-yard Grandover Resort East Course. Auburn is the No. 1 seed in the regional, followed by UNLV, Florida, Duke and Indiana. In addition to Lamar (10th seed), Liberty, SMU, Texas Tech, Tulsa, Louisiana-Lafayette, Charlotte, George Washington and Mount St. Mary's will be playing in Greensboro.
"Getting to the NCAA postseason is the goal here for Lamar golf," said LU head coach Brian White who picked up his third Southland Conference men's Coach of the Year honor this season. "The competition in golf is at such a high level that this regional could be just as tough as the NCAA Championship.
"We've never seen this golf course. Hopefully it will be set up quite tough like regional championships usually are. That would give us somewhat of an advantage so that we could use our ball striking which we're very good at. If the course plays easier, we would be at a disadvantage."
The Cardinals' last action was a win at the Southland Conference Tournament on Apr. 25. Lamar started the final round trailing Central Arkansas by seven strokes at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney before catching the Bears and winning the title on the first playoff hole.
Senior M.J. Daffue won his second straight individual conference title, becoming the first player to repeat as Southland Conference medalist since 1979. Lamar also got top 10 finishes from freshman Luke Jerling (tie for fifth) and senior Xavier Feyaerts (tie for seventh).
"I think mentally we're in a good spot," said White. "Coming back to win the conference tournament, winning in a playoff, having the individual champion and the freshman of the year (Jerling), I think the players are in a good frame of mind and playing well.
"When you have a break of two or three weeks between tournaments, that's always an issue. Regionals are extremely tough so we're going to have to play great to get through, but everyone has to play great. No one gets through regionals not playing well. You have to play your best."
White will use the same lineup that won the conference tournament. In addition to Daffue, Jerling and Feyaerts, senior Kevin Hesbois and redshirt junior Erik Knudsen will be competing for the Cardinals.
Daffue leads the Cardinals with a 73.0 strokes per round scoring average. The native South African won three times this season to give him five career individual victories. Daffue tied for 54th at the Virginia Tech Regional last season in his only other NCAA appearance.
Jerling, who is second on the team in scoring average at 74.0 strokes, is the only current Cardinal to have never played in a NCAA Regional. Jerling won the Wolfpack Spring Open on Apr. 15 for his first career victory.
Hesbois is third on the team with a 74.2 scoring average. A third-team all-conference selection this year, Hesbois connected on a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole of the conference tournament to give the Cardinals the victory. This will be his third NCAA Regional appearance after tying for 41st in 2009 and for 45th last year.
Feyaerts tied Hesbois for 45th at last year's regional, and finished 64th in 2009. Feyaerts, who joined Jerling on the all-conference second-team this year, averaged 74.3 strokes per round this season. He had four top 10 finishes this season, including a tie for third at the Border Olympics.
Knudsen played in only one spring tournament for the Cardinals, tying for 29th at the Southland Conference Tournament. Knudsen, who tied for 57th at last year's regional tournament, is carrying a 75.7 strokes per round scoring average.