May 13, 2014
DALLAS (SMU) - The SMU Mustangs will be one of 13 teams aiming for a bid to the NCAA Championships as they tee off on Thursday at the Briggs Ranch Golf Club in San Antonio. SMU is seeded sixth and the top-five teams after the three-day event will earn a trip to the NCAA Championships in Hutchinson, Kan., beginning May 27.
ABOUT THE NCAA REGIONALS
Thirteen teams will converge upon the Briggs Ranch Golf Club in San Antonio for one of four NCAA Regionals on May 15-17. The top five teams after the three-round event will advance to the NCAA Championships, which begin May 27.
The tournament field features 13 teams, eight of which are ranked in GolfStat’s top 50. Four teams are ranked in the top 25 - No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 UCF, No. 18 UCLA and No. 19 Vanderbilt. Six teams earned their place in the regional with conference tournament victories - SMU (American Athletic Conference), Georgia Southern (Southern), Georgia State (Sun Belt), College of Charleston (Colonial), VCU (Atlantic 10) and Columbia (Ivy League). UCF and USF join SMU as American Athletic Conference representatives. TCU and Northwestern also received at-large bids to the regional. Individually, the event boasts 11 players ranked in GolfStat’s top 50. Three Palmer Cup participants will also be playing - Bryson Dechambeau (SMU, USA), Ricardo Gouveia (UCF, Europe) and individual participant Erik Oja (Arizona, Europe). Three Ben Hogan Award semifinalists are also competing – Dechambeau, Greg Eason (UCF) and Joey Garber (Georgia). Eason (No. 3), Dechambeau (No. 13) and Garber (No. 28) are also highly-ranked in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. There are a total of 10 players competing as individuals, bringing the total event field to 75.
SMU ALL-TIME IN THE NCAA POSTSEASON
SMU has been to 11 straight NCAA Regionals, but has not made an appearance at the NCAA Championships since 2005. Last season, senior Mario Clemens won the Fayetteville regional, but SMU missed a championship berth by three shots, placing sixth. In 2012, SMU was in second after two days, but stumbled back to seventh on the leaderboard during the final round. 2011 was also a heartbreaker for the Mustangs, placing sixth in the regional, two shots behind Texas for fifth. SMU has one NCAA title - in 1954, led by Floyd Addington, who took the individual national championship. SMU went to three straight NCAA Championships from 2003-05, with a best finish during that span being 22nd in 2005.
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST
Sophomore Bryson Dechambeau ranks first in the nation in final round scoring average with a 69.27. SMU is ranked 27th as a team, averaging a score of 72.89 on the final day. SMU posted a low-round score of 285 (plus-one) in the final round of the American Athletic Conference Championships, clinching the league title. Dechambeau carded a three-under 68 in that round, sealing the individual championships by five strokes.
Sophomore Austin Smotherman recorded his third top-10 finish of the season, tying for fourth at the American Athletic Conference Championships. Smotherman tied for sixth at the Valspar Invitational at Floridian on March 25, and earned a runner-up result at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate on Oct. 29, finishing at 10-under par. He has carded a total of 12 rounds of par or better this season, and holds an average round score of 72.71. On May 9, Smotherman was named to the All-American Athletic Conference team.
HIGGS AS THE LONE SENIOR
Harry Higgs is SMU’s lone senior for the 2013-14 season, and he is looking to make it his best season yet. The Overland Park, Kan., native has posted three top-five finishes and is currently ranked 138th in the GolfWeek/Sagarin rankings. Higgs recorded a career-best result at the National Invitational Tournament hosted by Arizona, tying for second (eight-under par). Higgs also came through with a clutch final round at the American Athletic Conference Championships, carding four birdies over his final 10 holes to help lead SMU to a five-shot victory.
I'm very thankful we got sent to Briggs Ranch; it is a very good golf course and fortunately it’s close to home. We can actually drive to an event for the first time all year other than our home event at Royal Oaks. It’s ironic that we will see UCF and USF again, both top teams in our conference. Hopefully we can have the same result as we did at the conference tournament. We are very excited for the chance to compete in the NCAA’s. We have a lot of momentum from our conference championship run, and we can’t wait to compete. We will be as prepared as we can be, have fun, and continue to work on our patience and emotions as that was the key to our win at the conference championships.”
LAST TIME OUT - AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
The SMU Mustangs posted the low team round of the day to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship by five strokes after the final round in Innisbrook, Fla. Sophomore Bryson Dechambeau took individual medalist honors by five shots, finishing the event at seven-under par.
SMU won its ninth team championship and first since winning three straight from 2004-06, while Dechambeau earned the program’s first individual title since Will Dodson won two straight in 2005 and 2006. With the conference championship, SMU also earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals from May 15-17.
“This was a huge day for us,” SMU head coach Josh Gregory said. “For us to sweep the individual title and team title was incredible. We have had so many close calls; this one was long overdue.
“The guys truly brought patience this week and did well handling their emotions. We are fortunate enough to be in a great golf conference and we are honored to win the American. This is a huge step for our program and great momentum heading into the NCAA postseason.”
The Mustangs began the day one stroke behind No. 7 UCF, but quickly tied the tournament on the front nine. SMU, UCF and USF all shared or solely held the lead during the front nine. SMU managed to pull away over the back nine, led by Dechambeau’s three birdies over four holes (14-17) and senior Harry Higgs’ minus-four score over his last 10 holes. Over the last six holes, SMU’s lead was never less than four strokes.
Dechambeau, who collected his first collegiate win, held a one-stroke lead on the field to begin the final round, and never relinquished the lead at any point on Tuesday. The Clovis, Calif., native finished as one of just three players to finish under par for the tournament, carding a seven-under 206 for the event. Dechambeau was also the only player in the field to post two rounds in the 60s at the Innisbrook Resort - Copperhead Course.
“This win is a great step in the right direction for our team,” Dechambeau said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how we handled ourselves like professionals and for that I am most proud.”
Sophomore Austin Smotherman also earned a top-five finish, finishing tied for fourth at an even-par 213. Higgs tied for 12th after carding a one-under 70 in the final round, including a three-under back nine. Ryan Burgess tied for 19th to give SMU four players in the top 20.
UCF earned runner-up honors and No. 9 Houston placed third in the tournament, eight strokes off SMU’s pace. USF took fourth and Louisville rounded out the top five. Dechambeau and the whole SMU squad are not only thrilled on the league title, but are looking forward to successes in the NCAA postseason.
“It was a great breakthrough win for me but I am more proud of SMU golf,” Dechambeau said. “This will be great momentum for us going into the postseason. I can’t wait for the coming weeks ahead.”
MUSTANGS EARN ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS
SMU Mustangs sophomores Bryson Dechambeau and Austin Smotherman received all-conference recognition, and head coach Josh Gregory was named American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, the league office announced on May 9.
Dechambeau, who won the individual conference title by five shots, was a Ben Hogan Award semifinalist and was selected to represent the United States at the 2014 Palmer Cup. The Clovis, Calif., native has seven top-five finishes this season and has carded 18 rounds at par or better. Dechambeau also leads the nation in final-round scoring average (69.27), tallying eight scores in the 60s to end tournaments. Dechambeau is currently ranked 13th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Dechambeau also earned all-conference honors last season, landing a spot on the Conference USA First Team and winning Freshman of the Year.
Smotherman had a career-best runner-up result at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate in October, finishing the event at 10-under par. Smotherman also tied for sixth at the Valspar Collegiate at four-under par and has totaled 13 rounds of par or better golf this season. The Loomis, Calif., native climbed as high as second at the conference tournament before ending with a strong fourth-place finish. Smotherman was a Second Team All-C-USA selection last season.
|Briggs Ranch Golf Club|