May 14, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- The Georgia men's golf team has won three tournaments this season, taken second in another, and placed third in three others. All told, the Bulldogs have finished no worse than sixth in any event this year. One poll has the Bulldogs ranked No. 3 and two more have them No. 6.
But when it comes to getting a berth in the NCAA Championships, none of that matters. The only way to advance to the NCAAs is to post a top-5 finish in the San Antonio Regional, which begins on Thursday at the Briggs Ranch Golf Club.
"I say this every year, but's it true: This can be the most nerve-racking tournament we have," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "Everyone has a goal of playing for a national championship and you play hard all season to get better and put yourself in that position. But unless you play well this week, all of that sort of goes by the wayside. And while we all know that, we're going in loose and relaxed and focused on getting some early momentum and trying to win this thing."
History is on Georgia's side.
The Bulldogs will be competing in a regional for the 25th time in 26 years since the format was introduced for the 1989 season. In the previous 24 years, Georgia has advanced to the NCAAs 18 times. The Bulldogs have been invited to a regional in all 18 of Haack's seasons and have moved onto the NCAAs in 15 of the previous 17 campaigns. Haack led the Bulldogs to the 1999 and 2005 national titles and to runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2011.
The top five teams from each of the six regionals will make up the field for the NCAAs May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kansas. The other regionals will be held this week at Auburn University Club in Auburn, Ala.; The Club at Old Hawthorne in Columbia, Mo.; Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh, N.C.; Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.; and Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.
Joining the top-seeded Bulldogs in San Antonio will be No. 7 Central Florida, No. 18 UCLA, No. 19 Vanderbilt, South Florida, SMU, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, TCU, Northwestern, College of Charleston, Virginia Commonwealth and Columbia. SMU (American Athletic), Georgia Southern (Southern), Georgia State (Sun Belt), College of Charleston (Colonial), Virginia Commonwealth (Atlantic 10) and Columbia (Ivy) were invited after claiming conference championships.
"All of the regionals are tough," Haack said. "No matter where you go, you know you're going to get a pretty good challenge. There are plenty of good teams in our regional. We know we've got to go in and take care of business."
The Bulldogs will use a lineup of seniors Michael Cromie, Joey Garber and Keith Mitchell, sophomore Lee McCoy and freshman Greyson Sigg. Georgia's players will tee off in 10-minute increments between 9 and 9:40 a.m. on Thursday with their counterparts from Central Florida and UCLA. Live results can be found at Golfstat.com.