NCAA men's golf: West Virginia the early surprise in Louisville Regional

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NCAA men's golf: West Virginia the early surprise in Louisville Regional

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NCAA men's golf: West Virginia the early surprise in Louisville Regional

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The last time West Virginia advanced to the NCAA postseason, Harry S. Truman was in the Oval Office. The No. 8-seeded Mountaineers, an at-large bid at the Louisville Regional, are currently on the cutline in fifth place at 2-over 286 after the first of three days.

There are 13 teams in the field and five advance to the NCAA Championship, contested May 24-29, at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark. West Virginia’s men’s golf program was reinstated in 2015-16 after a more than 30-year break. The last time the Mountaineers made it to the postseason was 1947.

“It’s just great for those guys who committed to us when we didn’t have a program,” said head coach Sean Covich. “It’s pretty cool.”

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Auburn carded the day’s low round, 8-under 276, to pace the field at University of Louisville Golf Club. Four schools broke par on the day.

The Mountaineers have been led this season by sophomore Matthew Sharpstene, who boasts a 70.63 scoring average and four-top 10 finishes. On Monday, Logan Perkins posted the day’s low round of 70 and Philipp Matlari added a 71. Sharpstene shot 72.

The grass and the cooler temperatures felt familiar to West Virginia. The team made the 5 1/2-hour drive to Louisville late last week and got the chance to play Valhalla for a tune-up.

That’s mostly how Covich’s team prepares – by playing a ton.

“We don’t have a practice facility, we barely have a range,” said Covich. “We just play a lot.”

Covich’s first roster at West Virginia consisted of mostly transfers. Team unity wasn’t great to say the least. It took a few years for the Mountaineers to find their identity.

Earlier this year during a rain delay, Covich took his team to a Dave & Buster’s and they had a blast. The players asked if they could buy a Nerf basketball hoop for the van with their tickets.

Covich took a picture of that hoop when it went up and texted it to his wife saying: “We finally have a team.”

Maybe all that chemistry will lead to something special in Louisville.

Cardinal red

Host Louisville finished in a share of third with Baylor at 4-under 280.

Mattias Schmid leads the field with a 5-under 66 that included six birdies and an eagle. This marks the first time the Cardinals have hosted a regional at the University of Louisville Golf Club.

Louisville won once this season and finished second five times, amassing a school-record 11 top-5 finishes. The Cardinals, seeded fourth, led the field in birdies on Day 1 with 22.

Host teams seeded within the top five advance to the NCAA finals 88.7 percent of the time.

Chip shots

Oklahoma State owns an NCAA-leading 13 regional titles. After Round 1 in Louisville, the top-ranked team trails Auburn by two. Junior Victor Hovland led the Cowboys with a 3-under 68 while sophomore Austin Eckroat added a 69. OSU has won three consecutive regional titles. … North Florida, the No. 3 seed, got off a slow start. The Ospreys stand in eighth place after an 8-under 292. … Only 15 players in the field broke par. … Connecticut’s Jimmy Hervol carded the low round among the individuals in the field, posting a 67 for a share of second.

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