2006: Lamar ends streak, advances

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Chardon, Ohio

Brad McMakin had taken his Lamar Cardinals golf team to the regionals in each of the last six years but was 0-for-6 in advancing to the final stage.

That changed May 20 at the NCAA Central Regional.

Lamar placed fifth at Sand Ridge Golf Club and was one of 10 teams to qualify for the NCAA Men’s Division I Championship May 31-June 3 in Sunriver, Ore.

Oklahoma State (7-under 845) led wire-to-wire and finished the 54-hole event 16 shots better than Big Ten champion Northwestern. Also advancing were Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Clemson, Duke and Kentucky.

Lamar, which won seven tournaments this year, will return to the finals for the first time since 1986.

“It means a lot for me and the university and the team,” McMakin said. “They played really good all year long and I am really happy for the guys, and this will help in a lot of different ways.”

The Cardinals were led by junior Dawie Van Der Walt, who placed third individually at 3-under 210. He finished behind a pair of Oklahoma State players – medalist Jonathan Moore (205) and Zack Robinson (208).

Two additions to the team at the start of the spring season helped Lamar. After sitting out a semester because of academic probation, sophomore Casey Clendenon returned to the lineup. Also joining the Cardinals in January was Oliver Bekker, a freshman from South Africa who leads the team in scoring average.

“He has filled a good void that we were missing in the first semester,” McMakin said of Bekker.

While Lamar was comfortably inside the top 10, a few teams were scrambling to earn their way to Oregon. Texas, finishing on the front nine, posted a 33-over total after Matthew Rosenfeld made triple bogey on his next-to-last hole.

The Longhorns were in need of some help from Purdue – which made a late charge by going 4 under on the final hole – and Kentucky to have a shot at advancing.

However, Kentucky’s Tyler Wilson ended the Boilermakers’ and Longhorns’ hopes with a birdie on the par-3 17th and then a 2-putt birdie on the final hole to send his Wildcats back to the NCAA Championship for the fourth consecutive year.

“It all comes down to a couple of putts at the end,” Kentucky coach Brian Craig said. “I hated it for Texas and Purdue because (they) have classy programs and great coaches and kids, but luck was on our side today.”

Kentucky, which lost current PGA Tour rookie J.B. Holmes and several other top players to graduation last season, returns to the finals with almost an entirely new group of players.

Only senior Matt Kohn was with the Wildcats a year ago, when they placed seventh at NCAAs.

“I am real proud of these guys,” Craig said. “We have a lot of youth and inexperience on the college level with this team, but we have played well all year and have been pretty consistent except for early in the spring. It’s a real treat to get back to the finals.”

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