Sammamish Regional: Top-seeded USC wins while 9th-seeded Penn State returns to NCAAs

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Sammamish Regional: Top-seeded USC wins while 9th-seeded Penn State returns to NCAAs

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Sammamish Regional: Top-seeded USC wins while 9th-seeded Penn State returns to NCAAs

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TOP TEAM: USC (3-under 849)

TOP INDIVIDUAL: Cole Miller, Penn State (7-under 206)

ALSO ADVANCED: Kent State (855), Florida State (862), Alabama (862), Penn State (863)

JUST MISSED OUT: Texas A&M (867), Washington (869)

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THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM FOR PENN STATE!: We pondered whether this was Penn State’s time and it turned out it was! The Nittany Lions, the No. 9 seed in this regional, closes in 1-over 285 at Aldarra Golf Club to comfortably hold onto the fifth spot (the last one to advance) it started the day with. Penn State’s 11-over total for the week was four clear of the sixth-place finisher. Cole Miller earned the individual title at regionals, birdieing four of his first 14 holes Wednesday and posting a 3-under 68 to win by three at 7 under. Miller, a junior, went sub-70 each of his three rounds in earning his fifth (yes, fifth) win of 2016-17 and becoming the Nittany Lions’ second regional individual champion (T.J. Howe, 2010). This was Penn State’s third straight regionals appearance but the first one among that group to earn the team a nationals trip – the Nittany Lions hadn’t been since 2010. Miller was of course the top scorer this week, but Ryan Davis (T-8, 1 under) and Charles Huntzinger (T-27, 7 over) also placed in the top 30. Alec Bard, younger brother of Virginia’s Derek Bard, tied for 51st at 15 over while J.D. Hughes posted in a tie for 65th at 21 over. The Nittany Lions advance!

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TROJANS TRIUMPH: This is what USC does: Dominate. The No. 1 seed closed in 2-over 286 to double its overnight margin to six and earn the program’s third regional win. Despite having the 36-hole leader in Justin Suh, the Trojans couldn’t complete the double with the individual title as well, but it was still a strong week.

With this winning performance, USC makes it to the NCAA Championship for the 11th straight year – tied for the longest active streak in the nation with Texas. USC also now has five wins on the season. While the Trojans did cruise in Sammamish, regionals is never easy on head coach Chris Zambri’s nerves.

“This week is always somewhat stressful,” Zambri said in a release. “We’re very happy it turned out how it did. Now we need to get ourselves ready for a big week in Chicago.”

For the week, Suh was one of two to lead the way despite the sophomore closing 2-over 73. Suh and junior Sean Crocker (71) tied for second at 4 under. Senior Rico Hoey also placed in the top five, finishing T-5 at 3 under.

The No. 2 team in the country will return to the NCAA Championship after two years of close calls at national titles. USC made the finals in 2015 and reached the semis in 2016, but the group has yet to earn the first national title in program history. The Trojans will at least have another shot in 2017 and go in with some hot play.

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SHORT SHOTS: Alabama’s strong spring continues, as the sixth-seeded Crimson Tide advance. A 2-under 282, the round of the day, moves Alabama from fifth to T-3 and onto Rich Harvest Farms. … Second-seeded Kent State, led by T-2 finisher Ian Holt, places second at 3 over. Fourth-seeded Florida State reaches NCAAs despite a closing 12-over 296 by finishing T-3 at 10 over. … Texas A&M finishes sixth – one place out of qualifying – for the second straight year. At least it wasn’t a playoff like 2016. Regardless, a tough one to swallow for the Aggies. The No. 3 seed was in seventh and three back of the cut to start the day and couldn’t make any of it up. The Aggies ultimately finished the tournament four shots back of fifth. … The good news for Texas A&M? Chandler Phillips is going to Rich Harvest Farms! The sophomore closes in 67 to place solo seventh at 2 under and earn an NCAA Championship spot as an individual. … Host Washington, the fifth seed, drops a spot to seventh at 17 over and fails to qualify. … Kyle Mueller (T-8, 1 under) and Nick Carlson (T-17, 3 over) show up strong for Michigan, but the 10th-seeded Wolverines end up 10th at 34 over.

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