The unranked Virginia men’s golf team staged a miraculous rally during the final round of the NCAA East Regional Championships to finish 10th and earn the final berth from the regional to the national championships. Virginia’s trip to the 30-team NCAAs at Purdue’s Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex is the program’s first since 2000. The tournament takes place May 28-31.
The Cavaliers entered Saturday’s final round in 16th place, nine shots out of 10th place. With play delayed more than two hours due to morning fog, the Cavaliers did not tee off until mid-afternoon at the same time the tournament’s leaders were completing their rounds. When Michigan State finished its morning round, the Spartans occupied 10th place at 1-under 851. It would take Virginia’s best round of the season to overtake the 24th-ranked Spartans.
That’s exactly what the Cavalier golfers combined to do. Virginia shot 8-under 276, the day’s second best score, and finished 10th in the 54-hole event at 3-under 849.
“The guys stepped up like they have done all spring,” said coach Bowen Sargent. “They knew they had to win the Cavalier Classic just to make the a regional and they did that. They knew they had to go out and have a really great day and they did it. They had great focus today.”
Virginia got off to an excellent start as the five UVa players combined for eight birdies over their first two holes. The Cavaliers made the turn at 6-under including 11 birdies. Freshman Will Collins, who led UVa in the final round with a 4-under 67 on the Council Fire Golf Club course, used an eagle on the 11th hole to move to 3-under and finally put UVa in the top 10.
“We talked about the fact the first couple of holes were some of the easiest on the course,” Sargent said. “We knew we had to get under par fast and they did it. The final three holes were the toughest on the course, so we felt if we could get off to a great start, and then hold on, we could get in.
“I told the guys that the teams playing in the morning had all the pressure on them. They were the leaders and they were battling to get in. We were a high seed and no one expected anything from us. I told them to go out and get some birdies and then we’ll add them up at the end and see if it is enough. Well, it was. They did great.”
The Cavaliers entered the regional tournament as the No. 22 seed. They are the highest seed from any of the three regional championships to advance to the NCAAs.
Collins was one of three UVa players to finish below par during the final round. Sophomores Steven Rojas and Kyle Stough both shot 2-under 69. Senior Greg Carlin shot even par 71 and Conrad Von Borsig had his best round of the three-day event with a 1-over 72.
“I walked with Will all day and he was amazing today,” Sargent said. “It was one of the best ball striking rounds I’ve ever seen. He chipped in on 17 for a birdie. At that point I thought it was our day, when something like that happens.”
Rojas finished 17th overall with a score of 4-under 209. Collins was 23rd at 210, Stough was 38th at 213, Carlin was 94th at 220 and Von Borsig finished 129th at 226.
Georgia, the top-seed in the tournament, was the only team to shoot better than UVa during the final round. The Bulldogs posted a final round score of 9-under 275 for a final team score of 41-under 811. Augusta State was second at 831, 21 shots behind Georgia.
Other teams advancing from the East Regional included UC-Irvine (836), Mississippi State (838), UAB (839), Auburn (840), Charlotte (844), East Tennessee State (845) and Middle Tennessee (846). There were five teams at the regional ranked in Golfstat’s top-30 that failed to advance to the NCAs including No. 7 South Carolina and No. 12 Duke.
Georgia’s Russell Henley and UAB’s Zach Sucher tied for first at 13-under 200.
Virginia will be joined at the NCAAs by ACC members Wake Forest and Clemson. The Demon Deacons won the Central Regional while Clemson was third in at the West Regional.NCAA East Regional
Council Fire Golf Club
Par-71, 6,961 yards
1. Georgia 265-271-275-811
2. Augusta State 273-282-277-832
3. UC-Irvine 283-275-278-836
4. Mississippi State 278-282-278-838
5. UAB 287-274-278-839
6. Auburn 281-277-282-840
7. Charlotte 281-282-281-844
8. East Tennessee State 286-283-276-845
9. Middle Tennessee State 278-286-282-846
10. Virginia 286-287-276-849
11. Michigan State 285-279-287-851
12. Tennessee-Chattanooga 282-281-290-853
12. New Mexico State 280-280-292-853
14. NC State 279-296-280-855
15. Virginia Tech 281-291-286-858
16. South Carolina 288-293-278-859
17. Georgia State 287-286-288-861
18. North Florida 293-288-281-862
19. Duke 286-282-295-863
20. Memphis 289-291-284-864
20. Western Carolina 285-289-295-866
22. Coastal Carolina 285-291-289-865
23. SMU 276-295-295-866
23. Colorado State 282-293-291-866
25. Mississippi 293-291-287-871
26. Western Illinois 293-291-290-875
27. Jackson State 302-334-312-948
3. Russell Henley, Georgia 66-68-66-200
1. Zach Sucher, UAB 69-62-69-200
4. Henrik Norlander, Augusta State 65-70-67-202
4. Sean Shahi, UC Irvine 70-65-69-204
5. Joel Sjoholm, Georgia State 69-69-67-205
6. Harris English, Georgia 74-65-67-206
4. Jurrian van der Vaart, Virginia Tech 67-68-71-206
8. Noah Goldman, Mississippi State 68-70-69-207
8. Kelly Kraft, SMU 66-71-70-207
8. Adam Mitchell, Georgia 66-70-71-207
8. Glenn Northcutt, Auburn 67-70-70-207
8. Seamus Power, East Tennessee State 71-68-71-207
8. Gareth Shaw, East Tennessee State 67-71-70-207
17. Steven Rojas 72-68-69-209
23. Will Collins 70-73-67-210
38. Kyle Stough 69-75-69-213
94. Greg Carlin 78-71-71-220
129. Conrad Von Borsig 75-79-72-226