Dramatic playoff gives Bucs spot in NCAA Championships

Saturday, May 19, 2007


         TEMPE, Ariz. (May 19, 2007) - In one of the most dramatic finishes in ETSU men's golf history, the Buccaneers spent most of Saturday's final round at the NCAA West Regional wondering if their tournament score of 25-under-par would be enough to finish in the Top 10 and earn the program's 16th trip to the NCAA Championships.


            After watching their name teeter above and below the magical Top 10 cutline throughout the afternoon at the Karsten Golf Course, the Bucs ultimately finished tied for ninth along with Wake Forest and Oregon State, leaving those three teams to face off in a playoff for the two remaining spots in the NCAAs. ETSU wasted no time in that effort, as the Bucs posted four birdies to win the playoff outright and join Wake Forest as the final two teams to make the championship field.


            "We thought we were in good shape, then it started looking like we weren't going to make, and then we were tied - it was a rollercoaster ride no doubt," said ETSU head coach Fred Warren. "We finished our round at noon and then we had to spend the rest of the day watching live scoring to see if we were going to make it. This is so much pressure, even more than the NCAA Championships because at least once you make it there you know you are going to have a finish. If you don't make the Top 10 here your season is over."


On a day when several teams posted extremely low scores, the Bucs put themselves in a dangerous position by posting a score of just 4-under 284 in the final round. While many other teams reached under par scores in double digits, what appeared to be a comfortable margin for the Bucs at the beginning of the day ultimately vanished.


However, after regrouping by resting at their hotel throughout the afternoon and arriving back at the course approximately an hour before the playoff, senior Rhys Davies (Bridgend, Wales), freshman Seamus Power (Waterford, Ireland), junior Cian McNamara (Limerick, Ireland) and sophomore Jordan Findlay (Fraserburgh, Scotland) went to their respective playoff holes and promptly birdied all of them to give the Bucs a resounding win in the sudden death situation.


On the day, Davies - the team's two-time, first-team All-American and Ben Hogan Award finalist - carded a score of 4-under 68 to finish at 11-under for the event and finished as the Bucs' top individual performer with a tie for 14th. Meanwhile, powered by a final round score of 5-under 67, Shaw finished at 9-under for the regional and tied for 23rd.


            While improbable, Warren said the thought of not making the championships did cross his mind.


            "Especially with Rhys and all he's accomplished, I think our whole team didn't want it to end that way," said Warren, whose team finished a 25-under 839 for the event. "When Jordan birdied his hole, he came off the course, gave me and hug and said ‘That's for Rhys.'"  


             As for the rest of the field, South Carolina captured the regional title with a team score of 44-under 820, besting UCLA by two strokes. On the individual leaderboard, Arizona State's Benjamin Alvarado finished on top with a score of 18-under 198.


The Bucs will now prepare for the NCAA Championships May 30-June 2 at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va. The team hopes to build on what is already a strong reputation of NCAA success, having now reached the NCAA Championship 16 times in the history of the program. In fact, the Bucs have enjoyed national finishes as high as sixth in 1975, third in 1996 and ninth in 2001. A year ago, the Bucs finished 21st.


For more on ETSU men's golf and NCAA postseason play, visit ETSUBucs.com.

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