Five key players to watch at NCAAs
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – As the NCAA Championship gets underway Tuesday, let’s look at five players who need to play ginormous roles for their teams in hopes of cracking the top eight for match play.
1.) John Hahn, Kent State. The junior was playing like a top-20 player in the fall, but had a set back in the spring. Hahn started the spring not realizing he had a cracked rib. His ribs feel better now, and so does his golf swing. Hahn is back to 100 percent and the Golden Flashes should not be considered an underdog to crack that top eight.
2.) Kevin Foley, Penn State. The Nittany Lions were a bubble team just to make it into a regional, and now they are at The Honors Course for a chance to win a national championship. Foley has been known to go low at tournaments. He has had 11 sub-70 rounds this season, including two 67s at the NCAA East Regional at Yale. Can this senior can go low enough for three days to carry his team into match play?
3.) Diego Velasquez, Oregon State. The senior for the Beavers has only finished outside the top 25 twice all season. The Pac-10 is loaded with great teams and talent, and Velasquez at times has been overlooked. If he can put together three great rounds, then we might just be saying, “Where did Oregon State come from?”
4.) Sean Dale, North Florida. UNF is making only its second appearance at nationals, but what a year the Ospreys have had! The transfer from Ole Miss has had an immediate impact on his new team. There are three schools from the sunshine state this year at NCAAs – Florida, FSU, and UNF. The Ospreys continue to surprise. If Dale can continue to play well, UNF may just be the “Sunshine State” champs of the year.
5.) Derek Ernst, UNLV. The Rebels may not be that big of an underdog, but if you look at their team results you would understand. There is no doubt that UNLV can win in the desert and on the West Coast, but the East has traditionally been tough for UNLV. The Rebels only had one East Coast tournament this season, as they tied for third at a rain-shortened Jerry Pate National Intercollegiate. For UNLV to squash the stereotype of being a West Coast team Ernst needs to come through. If the Rebels can find a way into the top eight, UNLV may play bracket buster throughout the weekend.