TOP TEAM: Oklahoma (21-under 843)
TOP INDIVIDUAL: Jon Rahm, Arizona State (10-under 206)
ALSO ADVANCING: 2. Arizona State (863); 3. Georgia Tech (869); 4. Georgia (870); 5. Virginia (874)
INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIER: Gudmundur Kristjansson, East Tennessee State (3-under 213)
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JUST LIKE PETE WANTED IT: For many teams, regionals is not only the most exciting but the most nerve-wracking championship of the year. Safe to say that Oklahoma felt little pressure after the first round. A five-shot lead at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., turned into a 22-shot lead that became a 20-shot victory. The leaderboard shuffled beneath the Sooners, but this team was untouchable.
“Regionals is definitely always a stressful week,” head coach Ryan Hybl said. “This is our fifth time in a row of making it and the last four have been very very stressful.”
Hybl looks at Oklahoma’s opening round as the real difference maker. Wind dried out the course, making firm greens even faster and tougher. Rain softened the playing conditions on Friday, and that’s when Oklahoma pulled away.
Even though the Sooners had to travel west for their regional assignment, Hyble said his players were unfazed. Oklahoma players are comfortable on Pete Dye layouts like The Farms — they’re used to playing them at home in Oklahoma.
“We weren’t going to overpower the golf course,” Hyble said. “We were going to play the golf course like Pete wanted us to play the golf course.”
A 20-shot victory surely would make Dye proud.
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FROM 10 TO IN: Georgia’s first-round performance at the San Diego Regional created some cause for concern. The Bulldogs were 10 shots out of fifth place after that 19-over 307. But this team spent the next day chipping away at that deficit, shaved 29 shots, then held on in the final round to earn a national-championship berth.
“I really could not be prouder of our guys,” head coach Chris Haack said “They showed tremendous resolve over the last two rounds and we can definitely carry that momentum into the NCAAs. Our goal has been to get to the NCAAs and go after another national title. But we knew we couldn’t do that without closing strong here. We did just that, so here we are.”
Now that the Bulldogs are in, there’s history on which to build. Georgia has appeared in the NCAAs for five consecutive years and 17 of Haack’s 19 seasons coaching. Haack led the Bulldogs to the 1999 and 2005 national titles and to runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2011.
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SHORT SHOTS: Not surprisingly, Arizona State led the field in birdies (60) and eagles (five). The Sun Devils advanced on the shoulders of individual medalist Jon Rahm, whose final-round 69 included six birdies. . . . East Tennessee State steadily moved down the leaderboard throughout the week, eventually finishing seventh, six shots out of advancing. It would have been the first time since 2008. Still, Gudmundur Kristjansson will compete as an individual after finishing sixth individually. Kristjansson won his first collegiate title earlier this season at the Seminole Intercollegiate.