TEMPE, Ariz. — Following a Wednesday practice round on Arizona State’s Karsten Golf Course, the Texas A&M men’s golf team is ready to begin competition at the NCAA Tempe Regional, which tees off Thursday morning.
“I feel like we are playing our best golf of the year, which is exciting, “ Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said. “This time of year is always exciting anyway because it is a whole new season. We need to finish in the top five and advance. We’re ready to go and the guys looked fantastic on the practice round today; they’re playing great golf. We’re anxious to get going,”
The Aggies enter the event at the field’s No. 4 seed and will be making their school-record 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 40th NCAA appearance overall. Texas A&M, which stands alongside USC as one of only two schools in the nation to finish in the top 15 each of the last five seasons, will be seeking to earn a sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships.
“I think our experience means a lot,” Higgins added. “Knowing what it takes to get through and make it through to the National Championship. I’d much rather have guys that have been here before than guys who haven’t because it’s a different kind of pressure and will be different from any kind of tournament we’ve played in all year. Knowing how to play in this type of tournament and what it takes to get through, you can’t put a price tag on that.”
Pac-12 Champion UCLA is the top seed in the 14-team regional field, followed by Duke, Georgia, A&M and Clemson. Vanderbilt, UCF, North Carolina, host-Arizona State, Kennesaw State, Arizona, Austin Peay State, New Mexico State and Lehigh round out the field in Tempe.
In addition to the 14 teams, five individuals will take to the links in Arizona looking to advance to the NCAA Championships. The five are Glen Scher of UC Santa Barbara, Rufie Fessley of Fresno State, Cody Blick of San Jose State, Kyle Westmoreland of Air Force and Tyler Torano of Loyala Marymount.
The tournament will consist of 54 holes of stroke play on the par-70, 7,036-yard layout, with 18 holes each day. The top five teams in the regional advance to the NCAA Championship, scheduled for May 28-June 2 at Capital City Club in Atlanta, Ga.
“The course is good and it’s scorable,” Higgins said of Karsten Golf Course. “They’ve turned two of the par-5’s into par-4’s so the scores won’t seem as low as they have been in the past but in reality you have the same golf course. There will be a lot of birdie opportunities and we’ll need to take advantage of the short par-4’s. The course is in good shape and I think it’s going to get tougher as the weekend goes on. We need to really go attack the course and we’ll be capable of putting some low scores on the board.”
Leading the A&M contingency at the event will be seniors Cameron Peck and Drew Evans. Peck, a three-time All-American, holds a 73.47 scoring average on the season and has posted seven top-20 finishes while Evans was selected Second Team All-SEC and leads the Aggies with a 72.74 scoring average.
Texas A&M enters the postseason ranked No. 20 in the most recent Golf World/Nike Golf Division I College Coaches’ Poll after finishing fourth in its most recent action, which came at the SEC Championship in Sea Island, Ga., April 19-21.
The Aggies will be paired with Clemson and Vanderbilt during Thursday’s opening round. The group is scheduled to tee off from at hole No. 10 beginning at 9:30 a.m. (CT).
2013 NCAA Tempe Regional
May 16-18, 2013
ASU Karsten Golf Course (par 70 / 7,036 yards)
The Field (14 teams): UCLA (1 seed), Duke (2), Georgia (3), Texas A&M (4), Clemson (5), Vanderbilt (6), UCF (7), North Carolina (8), Arizona State (9), Kennesaw State (10), Arizona (11), Austin Peay State, (12), New Mexico State (13), Lehigh (14).
Format: Team stroke play, 54 holes
Round 1: Thursday
Round 2: Friday
Round 3: Saturday
Live Scoring: Golfstat.com
Live Updates: Twitter @AggieMensGolf
Up Next: NCAA Championship, May 28-June 2, Site: Atlanta, Ga. (Capital City Club)