The Georgia men’s golf team will begin its quest for the program’s third national title on Friday in the NCAA Championships.
The Bulldogs will be joined by 29 other squads and six individuals at the par-70, 7,289-yard Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Team and individual stroke play will take place Friday through Monday, with the field cut in half following Sunday’s round. The top eight squads following Monday’s round will advance to match play. The match play quarterfinals and semifinals are slated for Tuesday and the championship match is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Golf Channel will air live coverage from Monday’s final round of stroke play at 5 p.m. EDT, Tuesday’s match-play quarterfinals at noon EDT, Tuesday’s match-play semifinals at 5 p.m. EDT, and Wednesday’s match-play finals at 5 p.m. EDT.
The Bulldogs will use a lineup of fifth-year player Spencer Ralston, senior Davis Thompson, juniors Trent Phillips and Eli Scott, and sophomore Connor Creasy. That quintet produced one of the Bulldogs’ two team titles this year, taking the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship in Mississippi in May. They also dominated the stroke play portion of the SEC Championships, claiming first by eight strokes.
Georgia coach Chris Haack is completing his 25th season with the Bulldogs, and this will be his 20th squad in the final event. Haack led the Bulldogs to the 1999 and 2005 national titles, to runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2011, and to the national semifinals in 2015.
“The team chemistry for this group reminds me of those 1999 and 2005 teams,” Haack said. “All five get along great. We are also seeing them play well up and down the lineup. If we can keep that momentum going, it could be fun. If all five guys keep playing solid golf, it could take us a long way. I don’t feel like we have any weaknesses with these five. And to contend for a national championship, you’ve got to have all five guys making it happen.”
The Bulldogs are the No. 12 seed and are ranked No. 12 by Golfstat and the GCAA and No. 14 by Golfweek. Georgia will play the first two rounds with No. 10 and tournament host Arizona State and No. 11 Vanderbilt. The teams will tee off Friday from 3:47-4:31 p.m. EDT and Saturday from 10:27-11:11 a.m. EDT. Sunday’s pairings will be determined by the 36-hole results.
This will be Ralston’s and Thompson’s fourth NCAAs, while Phillips will be playing for the third time. All three have earned multiple All-America honors during their careers. Creasy missed his first crack at the NCAAs when the 2020 postseason was wiped out by the pandemic, while Scott played his first two seasons for NAIA Coastal Georgia.
“We believe we’ve got the team to do this,” Ralston said. “There is a quiet confidence with this team. We have tremendous chemistry and camaraderie, and we believe in each other. We knew coming in we could have a solid team, and that’s been reinforced the last few months. We are grateful for this opportunity, especially after the way things ended last year.”
Thompson, the SEC’s Golfer of the Year, leads the Bulldogs with a scoring average of 69.48. Already a finalist for the Haskins Award, Thompson was pegged as a finalist on Thursday for the Jack Nicklaus Award. Phillips is second on the team at 70.78, followed by Ralston at 71.29, Creasy at 71.75, and Scott at 73.38.
Joining the Bulldogs at the NCAAs will be No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 Texas, No. 6 North Carolina, No. 7 Wake Forest, No. 8 Illinois, No. 9 Pepperdine, No. 10 Arizona State, No. 11 Vanderbilt, No. 13 NC State, No. 14 Tennessee, No. 15 Liberty, No. 16 SMU, No. 17 San Francisco, No. 18 Florida, No. 19 Texas Tech, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 21 San Diego State, No. 22 Georgia Tech, No. 23 Louisville, No. 24 Sam Houston State, No. 25 Oregon State, No. 26 UAB, No. 27 TCU, No. 28 East Tennessee State, No. 29 Little Rock, and No. 30 San Diego. Ryan Hall of South Carolina, James Piot of Michigan State, Michael Sakane of Jacksonville, Cole Bradley of Purdue, AJ Ott of Colorado State, and Tristan Mandur of Utah will compete as individuals.
“We’ve got a strong team, and I think we’re one of the teams to watch,” Phillips said. “We’re ready to go to battle and we’re not going to back down to anybody. We have a strong, talented team. It could be any one of us to go low at any point. It’s a long week if you’re going to win it all, but we know we have to stay within ourselves and keep believing in each other.”