RALEIGH, North Carolina — Following a Wednesday practice round on North Carolina State’s Lonnie Poole Golf Course, the No. 11 Texas A&M men’s golf team is ready to begin competition at the NCAA Raleigh Regional, which tees off Thursday morning.
“We can’t wait to get going,” Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins said. “The guys are really eager to get back out there and qualify for another national championship.”
The Aggies enter the event as the field’s No. 4 seed and are making their school-record 12th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance as well as the 41st overall trip in program history.
Joining Texas A&M in Raleigh is (No. 1 seed) Georgia Tech, Washington, Florida State, Mercer, Kentucky, Texas Tech, Wake Forest, South Alabama, Memphis, Minnesota, Rice and Bethune-Cookman. Eight of the 13 teams in the regional field appear in the Top 50 of the Golfweek/Sagarin poll, with the Aggies checking in at No. 11.
Individually, Crancer ranks No. 32 in the Golfweek/Sagarin men’s collegiate player rankings and last week he and Yates were honored with selections to the All-SEC Second Team.
Competition will take place on the Lonnie Poole Golf Course, which serves as the home of the North Carolina State men’s and women’s golf teams and will play at par-71 and 7,213 yards for the regional.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things (regarding Lonnie Poole Golf Course),” Higgins said. “It plays pretty long and favors teams that have some length, which is good for us, but it always comes down to how well you chip and putt. Those are the biggest things, you’ve got to get on and convert on your birdie opportunities.”
The top five teams in Raleigh will advance to the NCAA Championship, scheduled for May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas. Additionally, the top individual not on the five advancing teams will also earn a trip to nationals.
Should the Aggies advance out of Raleigh, they would earn their seventh consecutive and 30th all-time appearance at the NCAA Championships. Among all collegiate programs, only Texas A&M has finished in the top 15 at the NCAA Championships in each of the last six seasons.
Texas A&M has finished fifth or better in seven of 11 tournaments this season, including six top-three finishes. The Aggies shared top team honors with LSU at the Aggie Invitational at Traditions Club in early April. Additionally, A&M earned runner-up honors at the Dick's Challenge Cup (Sept. 20-21), Jerry Pate Intercollegiate (Oct. 7-8) and John A. Burns Intercollegiate (Feb. 19-21).
“As tough as this regional field is, it’s still not as tough as most of the tournaments we play in,” Higgins added. “We’re used to this type of competition, accustom to playing courses that are set up tough and will be ready for whatever type of weather comes. I like our chances because outside of the No. 1 seed (Georgia Tech) there isn’t anybody here that we haven’t beat this year.”
Texas A&M will be paired with alongside golfers from Kentucky and Mercer during Thursday’s opening round and begin teeing off at hole No. 10 at 7:20 a.m. (CT).
2014 NCAA Raleigh Regional
May 15-17, 2014
Raleigh, North Carolina
Lonnie Poole Golf Course (par 71 / 7,213 yards)
The Field (13 teams): (1) Georgia Tech, (2) Washington, (3) Florida State, (4) Texas A&M, (5) Mercer, (6) Kentucky, (7) Texas Tech, (8) Wake Forest, (9) South Alabama, (10) Memphis, (11) Minnesota, (12) Rice, (13) Bethune-Cookman
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 23-28, Site: Hutchinson, Kansas (Prairie Dunes Country Club)