TEMPE, ARIZ. - The University of North Carolina men's golf team fired an 11-over-par 291 to finish in ninth place at the NCAA Tempe Regional with a 12-over 852 total. Carolina's season comes to an end as just the top five teams advance on to the NCAA Championships. The Tar Heels were led in the final round by senior Michael McGowan who carded a 2-under 68 to round out his college career.
"We got off to the start we needed starting on 10 and getting to 5-under through the 14th hole," says Tar Heel head coach Andrew Sapp. "Unfortunately holes #16 and #17 derailed us. We were hoping to make a lot of birdies on holes 1-4 since those are all birdie holes, but we did the opposite."
McGowan, who has been a starter throughout his four-year career, scored three birdies and just one bogey en route to his 2-under 68. The departing senior ended his collegiate playing days with a birdie-3 on the par-4 9th hole (his 18th hole). The Southern Pines, N.C. native carded an even par 210 total to tie for 24th place.
"It was nice to see Michael drain a 30-footer for birdie on his last hole," says Sapp. "A 68 for his final round in Carolina Blue was a good way to finish his career. We will definitely miss him next year."
Sophomore Brandon Dalinka finished four strokes ahead of McGowan in the individual race, tying for 10th place with a 4-under 206 total. The native of Newtown, Pa., fired a 1-over 71 in the final round posting two birdies and three bogeys.
"I am really proud of how Brandon played this tournament," says Sapp. "To get a top-10 finish at an NCAA Regional means he beat a lot of great players."
The other three Tar Heels - Bailey Patrick, Andy Sajevic and Keagan Cummings - all carded a 6-over 76 on Saturday. Patrick, from Charlotte, N.C., tied for 47th at 7-over 217. Sajevic, from Fremont, Neb., finished two strokes back in 50th place at 9-over 219 while Cummings, from Dublin, Ireland, posted a 17-over 227 total to tie for 71st.
Top seed and third-ranked UCLA held on to the lead it has had throughout the tournament to take the team title over the 14-team field. The Bruins fired an 11-under 269 in the final round to finish at 30-under 810. The other four teams advancing to the NCAA Championships are UCF, Georgia, Texas A&M and host Arizona State. UCF and Georgia finished a distant 17 strokes behind the Bruins at 13-under 827 to tie for second place. Texas A&M finished in fourth place at 11-under 829 while Arizona State finished fifth at 8-under 832 to round out the teams advancing to Nationals. New Mexico State placed sixth with an even par 840 total while Duke and Austin Peay State tied for seventh at 10-over 850, Carolina finished ninth at 12-over 852 while Vanderbilt and Kennesaw State tied for 10th at 14-over 854.
While disappointed that the Tar Heels will not be headed to the NCAA Championships in a couple of weeks, Sapp is proud of what his team accomplished this year and looks forward to next year.
"Overall it has been a great growing experience this year," Sapp explained. "With two wins on the season and a good opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships, we have a lot to look forward to in the future. Our young guys need to learn from the pain they are feeling right now and work hard this summer so we get back to regionals and qualify for nationals next year."
Greg Easton of Central Florida grabbed the individual title finishing at 12-under 198 after firing an even par 70 in the final round. Jonathan Garrick of UCLA and Ricardo Gouveia of UCF finished four strokes back in a tie for second place at 8-under 202. Four players tied for fourth at 7-under 203 - UCLA's Anton Arboleda and Pedro Figueiredo, Texas A&M's Johannes Veeman and Georgia's Lee McCoy. Dustin Korte of Austin Peay State finished eighth at 6-under 204 and is the individual qualifier who advances to the NCAA Championships while Trey Ka'ahanui of Arizona State finished ninth at 5-under 205. Three players tied for 10th place at 4-under 206 - Carolina's Dalinka, Clemson's Billy Kennedy and UCLA's Pontus Widegren.
The 54-hole event was played at ASU's Karsten Golf Course which features a par 70, 7,036-yard layout. The top five teams and top individual not on those five teams advance on to the NCAA Championships to be played May 28-June 2 at the Capital City Club, Crabapple Course, in Atlanta, Ga.