May 18, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (SMU) - SMU senior Mario Clemens tallied 10 birdies over three days at the NCAA Regionals, and he needed all 10. Clemens birdied his 18th hole on Saturday to finish the tournament at three-under, winning the NCAA Regional by one stroke at the Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark. With the win, Clemens advances to the NCAA Championships.
SMU placed sixth as a team, missing the fifth and final qualifying position for the NCAA Championships by three strokes.
Clemens becomes the first Mustang to compete at the NCAA Championships since the team qualified in 2005. The highest-finishing individual for SMU that year was Will Dodson, who tied for 43rd. The victory is also the first for a Mustang this season, and the first since Max Buckley won the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate on April 15, 2012.
"I'm so proud of Mario, it's an incredible win for him," Head Coach Josh Gregory said. "Now, he gets a chance to play for a national championship."
The Mustangs are disappointed that they did not qualify as a team. SMU struggled on the front nine for the third straight day, but rebounded over the final nine to nearly reach their goal of a top-five finish. Gregory was frustrated that his team did not achieved what they hoped, but knows that with four of the five players from these NCAA Regionals returning next season, there is plenty to be excited about.
"It's truly disappointing end to a good year for such a young team," Gregory stated. "We should be playing at the NCAAs, but we just didn't get it done. Fortunately, we are a young team and there is a very bright future."
David Lee, one of the three freshmen representing SMU at the Regionals, carded his best round of the weekend on Saturday, shooting a one-over 73.
The NCAA Championships will take place May 28-June 2 in Atlanta, Ga. and is hosted by Georgia Tech at the Capital City Club - Crabapple Course.