Ann Arbor, MI -
The Virginia men's golf team placed three players on the All-ACC team this season for the first time in the program's history. That trio of Ben Kohles, Ben Rusch and Denny McCarthy posted stellar final round efforts at the NCAA Central Regional in Ann Arbor, Mich., to help the Cavaliers qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Virginia shot 6-under 278 Saturday, the day's lowest team score, to place fourth at the regional. The Cavaliers' 54-hole total was 6-under 846 at the University of Michigan Golf Course. The top five schools from the 13-team field advanced to this year's NCAA Championships set for May 29 to June 3 at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Virginia entered the final round in fifth place, just one stroke ahead of Notre Dame.
"We had a team meeting last night and I wanted to try and alleviate some of the pressure," said Virginia coach Bowen Sargent. "I told them to look around the room. We had a two-time ACC player of the year (Kohles), the ACC champion (Rusch), the ACC freshman of the year (McCarthy) and two guys (Bruce Woodall and Ji Soo Park) who had just won U.S. Open qualifying tournaments. I told them to lean on each other. We have five really good players. They went out there today and got it done in what is easily our most pressure-packed round of the year."
Also advancing from the Central Regional was top-seeded USC, Oregon, Kent State and TCU. The sixth-ranked Trojans finished at 11-under 841 to win the regional by a single stroke over seventh-ranked Oregon. Kent State, ranked No. 18, was third at 844. TCU, ranked No. 43, was fifth at 3-under 849. Notre Dame and NC State tied for sixth at 859, 10 shots behind the Horned Frogs.
Rusch led the Cavaliers during the final round with a 4-under 67 that included a three-under effort on the back nine. McCarthy shot 2-under 69 and Kohles finished at 1-under 70.
"I'm so happy for these guys, especially our two seniors (Kohles and Woodall)," Sargent said. "It was hard to see us miss the championships last year and to see Will Collins' career end at a regional. That's all I could think about out on the course. This group really deserves to play at the national championships. It's what we expect to do and it was our goal at the start of the year."
Kohles finished tied for second in the field at 7-under 206, three shots behind medalist Albin Choi of NC State. McCarthy and Rusch tied for 25th at 1-over 214.
Park had his best round of the event with a 1-over 72 to move up to 41st at 221. Woodall shot 2-over 73 to place 28th at 2-over 215.
The Cavaliers were particular steady on the back nine as the team's four counting players combined to cover that stretch of the course at 5-under with just two bogeys between them.
"There was a long delay on the 11th hole and while we were waiting I noticed the scoreboard near the tee had us in a tie with Oklahoma State," Sargent said. "That had me concerned because we were on a particularly tough portion of the course and they were heading into a stretch where they could make some birdies. Over the next 30 minutes we went from basically even to about nine shots up. From that point, we just had to get it home. Our guys really handled that well."
Virginia will be competing at the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in the last five years. The Cavaliers finished 26th in 2008, 27th in 2009 and 11th in 2010. Last season UVa was eighth at its NCAA regional and failed to advance.
The NCAA Championship will consist of 54 holes of stroke play to determine the individual medalist and the eight teams that will move on to match play. Augusta State, the two-time defending NCAA Champions, failed to qualify for this year's tournament after placing seventh at its regional.
UVa will be joined by Florida State and Virginia Tech as the other ACC teams to advance to Los Angeles. Duke, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Clemson all failed to qualify from their respective regional sites.
The remainder of the NCAA field includes:
Athens Regional: Alabama, East Carolina, North Florida, Georgia, Iowa
Bowling Green Regional: Texas A&M, Chattanooga, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Memphis
Greensboro Regional: Liberty, Florida, Auburn, Lamar, Tulsa
Norman Regional: Washington, Texas, Illinois, Florida State, Oklahoma
Stanford Regional: California, San Diego State, UAB, Stanford and UCF
NCAA Central Regional Championship
University of Michigan Golf Course
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Par-71, 6,723 yards
1. USC 288-272-280-841
2. Oregon 288-274-280-842
3. Kent State 286-276-282-844
4. Virginia 287-281-278-846
5. TCU 278-284-287-849
6. Notre Dame 291-278-290-859
6. NC State 290-282-287-859
8. Oklahoma State 290-283-290-863
9. Kennesaw State 287-290-291-868
10. Purdue 291-293-291-875
11. Baylor 296-297-289-882
12. Ohio State 305-297-293-895
13. Navy 322-306-303-931
1. Albin Choi, NC State 69-68-68-203
2. Ben Kohles, Virginia 71-65-70-206
2. Sebastian MacLean, Xavier 68-70-68-206
2. Daniel Miernicki, Oregon 71-65-70-206
5. Julien Brun, TCU 67-66-72-207
5. Peter Williamson, Dartmouth 72-68-67-207
7. Max Scodro, Notre Dame 70-69-69-208
7. Patrick Winther, Oklahoma State 70-66-72-208
7. Jonathan Woo, Oregon 72-66-70-208
2. Ben Kohles 71-65-70-206
25. Denny McCarthy 71-74-69-214
25. Ben Rusch 77-70-67-214
28. Bruce Woodall 69-73-73-215
41. Ji Soo Park 76-73-72-221