Southeast: Uihlein, OK State roll at regional
Lance and Asher break down an action-packed weekend at the six NCAA Men’s regionals.
Winner: Oklahoma State (1-over 841)
Individual winner: Peter Uihlein, Oklahoma State (4-under 206)
The top 5: 2. Clemson (843); 3. Georgia Tech (845); T-4. Arizona State, Georgia Southern (863)
Individual advancer: Robbie Fillmore, BYU (T-3, 1-under 209)
Close, but no cigar: 6. BYU (864); 7. South Alabama (866); 8. Arkansas (867)
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Arizona State senior Knut Borsheim was lining up a putt on his 14th hole of the Southeast Regional’s final day when he realized his college career could be coming to an end sooner than he’d like.
His Sun Devils, ranked 14th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, only had a few holes remaining in the tournament and were a handful of shots outside of fifth place. The top five teams from each regional advance to the NCAA Championship.
Borsheim had just three-putted No. 4, his 13th hole of the day, from 20 feet and was 4-over par for the day. He followed by hitting a poor chip shot on the driveable par-4 fifth hole. While lining up his 15-foot birdie putt, he thought, “This is going to be my last five holes (of college). I have to do something, at least for my own sake. It’s not going to be fun to finish in this way,” Borsheim said. “Then something happened. It ended up not being my last tournament.”
Borsheim made his birdie putt on that hole, then birdied the next three holes to shoot 70. Arizona State’s Scott Pinckney saved his only birdie of the day for the final hole, and Arizona State tied Georgia Southern for one of the final two spots in the NCAA Championship.
Borsheim hit 6-iron to 3 feet on the par-3 sixth hole, a 50-yard pitch to 3 feet on the par-4 seventh hole and a wedge from 132 yards to 2 feet on the par-4 eighth hole.
Arizona State was still outside the cut line when he came to the 18th tee. Borsheim pulled his tee shot into the left trees, then hooked an 8-iron around limbs and over the green. He was left with a difficult pitch from a swale below the green, but hit that to 4 feet. Borsheim pumped his fist when he made the par putt.
Arizona State still had work to do when Pinckney, the Sun Devils’ final player on the course, was in the fairway on No. 9, his final hole of the day. Pinckney hit a 6-iron from 184 yards to 6 feet and made the birdie putt to clinch Arizona State’s berth at the Honors Course.
“I was thinking, ‘I have to do something here,’ ” Pinckney said. “It was the purest 6-iron I ever hit.”
Arizona State tied with Georgia Southern for the final two NCAA Championship spots at 23-over par. BYU finished one shot back at 24-over par.
If Pinckney had missed his putt, Arizona State would’ve played off with BYU for the final spot. The Honors Course, which will host this year’s NCAA Championship, was the site of Arizona State’s 1996 national title.
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Georgia Southern, No. 60 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, didn’t need any final-hole heroics to advance to the NCAA Championship. It just played steady over the final round.
The Eagles shot a final-round 282 – with four even-par 70s and two 72s – to move up to fourth.
Georgia Southern’s Logan Blondell shot even-par 70 to finish second at 2-under 208. This was Blondell’s first time in Georgia Southern’s lineup this spring.
Blondell, last season’s Southern Conference player of the year, struggled with his game earlier this spring. He turned it around, tying for sixth at the Schenkel E-Z-Go Invitational as an individual, but missed the team’s next two tournaments, including the conference championship, with an eye infection.
Georgia Southern’s final-day charge was also helped from senior Ryan Zabroske, who grew up about 10 minutes from the Crabapple Course. Zabroske shot 70 Saturday after shooting 75-80 in the first two rounds.
“I just felt like I needed to do too much. I was too aggressive, and this course ate me up,” Zabroske said. “Today I was much more patient. I went for the middle of the greens.”
Zabroske hit 17 greens Saturday. The senior helped Georgia Southern to its first NCAA Championship appearance since 2005. Zabroske was not on Georgia Southern’s roster his first year at school, but walked on in the middle of his sophomore season and was the team’s steadiest player this year.
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Top-seeded Oklahoma State lived up to its seeding, winning the Southeast Regional by two shots over Clemson, which is ranked 17th in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
Uihlein won twice in the fall, including the Ping/Golfweek Invitational, but hadn’t finished in the top 10 in the spring until a T-8 at the Aggie Invitational and runner-up at the conference championship. He was No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings after the fall, but entered this week at No. 21.
Uihlein played the Crabapple Course in the 2005 Canon Cup. Even though it’s been five years since that event, Uihelin said he was “ecstatic” to learn his team was playing the postseason here.
“This course fits my game,” Uihlein said. “I positioned the ball really well. I may not have hit every fairway, but I was on the right angles, so I was able to attack all the flags.”
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BYU’s Robbie Fillmore chipped in on the fifth hole of a playoff with Mississippi’s Jonathan Randolph to earn the regional’s individual bid to the NCAA Championship. Fillmore, a senior, has never played in the championship. He was the medalist in the 2008 U.S. Amateur.
He tied for third at 1-under 209. His team missed advancing by a shot.
“It’s more bitter than sweet,” Fillmore said. “We came out and we battled today. It was one shot. Between the five of us, if we sat and looked at every shot, it’d be detrimental. We did our best, and unfortunately we were one shot shy. That’s the way you have to look at it. We were just one great shot short.”
Randolph, a player of the year candidate, also tied for third. He won three events this year, and finished in the top 3 in six of seven starts this spring.