Top-seeded Georgia leads 13 teams and 10 individuals into the San Antonio Regional at Briggs Ranch Golf Club May 15-17.
Georgia, which has three victories this season, is ranked third by Golfweek. There is one other top-10 team in San Antonio – Central Florida – and three other top-30 teams in Vanderbilt (15), UCLA (18) and South Florida (30).
The top five teams will advance to the NCAA Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., May 23-28.
Over the next few days, our college golf experts will breakdown each of the six NCAA regionals, answering some of the most asked questions for each regional.
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WINNING TEAM: On paper it would have to be Georgia. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, have lost to just one team in the 13-team San Antonio Regional and that’s UCLA. Chris Haack’s squad is deep with six players on the roster ranking inside the top 105 in college golf.
SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): Certainly have to look at SMU. The Mustangs may be a No. 6 seed on paper but all things considered this squad is better than that. Expect Georgia Southern and Georgia State play well, but can they do enough over 54 holes is the question.
MEDALIST CONTENDERS: Julien Brun of TCU is probably the favorite. Also consider Bryson Dechambeau of SMU in the discussion. Any number of Georgia players could challenge for the top spot on the leaderboard as well. And we have to mention South Florida’s Chase Koepka and a pair of Central Florida players in Greg Eason and Ricardo Gouveia.
INTRIGUING STORYLINE: Texas is a big state, but we only see two schools – SMU and TCU – in the field that call the state of Texas home. You should expect to see SMU, coming off a victory at the American Conference Championship, contend for a championship berth. As for TCU, all eyes will be on junior Julien Brun. Brun won the Big 12 Conference title by nine shots and is a candidate to win the national championship individually, but has to get through regionals first.
THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . Georgia, Central Florida, Vanderbilt, South Florida and SMU
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WINNING TEAM: Central Florida. In my opinion, this might be the most competitive region of the six. Georgia has depth and plenty of talent, but the Knights have a dynamic duo in seniors Greg Eason and Ricardo Gouveia, and if junior Linus Vaisanen and senior Kyle Wilshire come to play, UCF has a good shot at taking the region.
SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): SMU. I seriously considered picking the Mustangs to win this region – and don’t forget they did just finish first ahead of UCF at the American Athletic Conference Championship. Bryson Dechambeau is one of the best players in the country, and Harry Higgs and Austin Smotherman lead a strong supporting cast.
MEDALIST CONTENDERS: UCF’s Greg Eason and SMU’s Bryson Dechambeau are just two of the likely medal contenders. Also in the conversation are Georgia’s Joey Garber, South Florida’s Chase Koepka and TCU’s Julien Brun.
INTRIGUING STORYLINE: VCU head coach Matt Ball is coming off leading the Rams to their first Atlantic 10 Conference title, and he did it with two sons on the roster, Adam Ball and Matt Ball Jr. Now, the trio will look to make it out of the regional round.
THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . Central Florida, SMU, Georgia, UCLA and South Florida.
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WINNING TEAM: This regional doesn’t have a clear favorite to pick from. All of these teams had great seasons, but one team in particular doesn’t stand out from the rest. I’m going to go with South Florida as a fifth-seed from the regional. The team won the Ocean Course Invitational in October, and is due for a victory this spring. Why not now?
SLEEPER (OUTSIDE OF TOP FIVE SEEDS): Georgia Southern. The Eagles have had one of the most dominating spring seasons in program history with its first-ever victory at the Schenkel Invitational, another win at the Southern Conference Championship and two other top-five finishes. It’ll be interesting to see how this team handles themselves with teams from the SEC and Pac-12.
MEDALIST CONTENDERS: TCU’s Julien Brun is coming off a tear at the Big 12 Championship with an nine-stroke victory. He shot 74-71-66-66 at Whispering Pines. Others that should contend: Central Florida’s Greg Eason and UCLA’s Jonathan Garrick.
INTRIGUING STORYLINE: Vanderbilt. Freshman Matthias Schwab didn’t participate in the SEC Championship due to injury, so it will be interesting to see is he plays at Briggs Ranch. Can the team advance without a player who averaged a 72.15 scoring average, the lowest on the team?
THE FIVE TEAMS ADVANCING WILL BE . . . Georgia, Central Florida, UCLA, South Florida and Georgia Southern.