The No. 3-ranked Georgia men’s golf team has three wins and has finished in the top five in all but one of its 10 tournaments this year. To extend their season to the biggest tournament of all, the Bulldogs must continue their solid play this week at the NCAA Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Regional.
The only way to advance to the NCAA Championships May 27-June 1 in Eugene, Ore., is to finish fifth or higher in the 13-team Regional, which runs Monday through Wednesday at Ol’ Colony Golf Complex.
“There’s something about the whole season being on the line at one tournament,” said senior and SEC Player of the Year Lee McCoy. “It can get under your skin if you let it. But we’re going to treat it just like any other tournament. … In college golf, anybody can beat anybody on a given day, and that applies to a top-5 team like us. We’re not going to let our guard down for a single moment.”
Joining the Bulldogs and host/fourth-seeded Alabama will be No. 2 seed Auburn, No. 3 seed South Carolina, No. 5 seed UNLV, No. 6 seed Kentucky, No. 7 seed Kansas, No. 8 seed Charleston, No. 9 seed Lipscomb, No. 10 seed Charleston Southern, No. 11 seed Colorado, No. 12 seed Harvard and No. 13 seed Southern Illinois. Georgia, UNLV, Charleston, Harvard and Southern Illinois were automatic qualifiers as conference champions.
“This is always the tournament that creates the most ulcers in my stomach,” Georgia head coach Chris Haack said with a laugh. “If we can get off to a good start and play pretty solid, it will help ease those nerves. All of the teams in the Regional are good. We’ve seen a lot of these teams this year and we know what they’re capable of.”
The Bulldogs will use a lineup of seniors McCoy and Sepp Straka, junior Greyson Sigg, sophomore Zach Healy and freshman Tye Waller. That quintet won the SEC title last month.
The other Regional sites are Gallery Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.; University of New Mexico Championship Course in Albuquerque, N.M.; Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.; Vanderbilt Legends Club in Nashville, Tenn.; and Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.
The Bulldogs were invited to an NCAA Regional for the 21st straight year and for the 27th time in 28 seasons since the format was introduced in 1988-89. The Bulldogs have advanced from the Regional to the NCAAs 20 times. The Bulldogs have been invited to an NCAA Regional in all 20 of Haack’s seasons and have moved onto the NCAAs in 17 of the previous 19 campaigns. Haack led the Bulldogs to the 1999 and 2005 national titles, to runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2011, and to the “Final Fore” in 2015.
Live results and tee times can be found at GolfStat.com. Georgia will tee off between 9 and 9:44 a.m. with Auburn and South Carolina.