May 17, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 12-ranked Georgia men's golf team will return to action this week in the NCAA Colorado Regional in an attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championship.
The Bulldogs will play Thursday through Saturday at the Colorado National Golf Club. Georgia must finish fifth or better in the regional to advance to the NCAAs, which will be held May 31-June 5 in Stillwater, Okla.
Georgia is making its 22nd appearance since the NCAA went to the Regionals format for the 1989 season, and the Bulldogs have advanced to the NCAAs 15 times. A year ago, the Bulldogs finished tied for fifth in the NCAA South Central Regional, only to lose in a playoff for a spot in the NCAAs. That snapped a streak of 12 straight berths for Georgia, which won NCAA titles in 1999 and 2005.
"It's really not something that we've talked about or dwelled on," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "And we certainly haven't done anything different to prepare. Last year was just one of those things. We were really close, but we got beat - and that's golf. I want our team to just go play, to do what we've prepared to do. If we play well, things will take care of themselves."
Haack will use a lineup of seniors Harris English, Russell Henley and Hudson Swafford, and sophomores Bryden Macpherson and T.J. Mitchell at the NCAA Colorado Regional. Mitchell bolstered his chance for a place in the lineup with a 61 at Athens Country Club during team qualifying.
The second-seeded Bulldogs will join a field that includes Oklahoma State, Auburn, Arizona State, Clemson, Chattanooga, TCU, North Florida, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Colorado State, San Jose State and Denver. Oklahoma State is the nation's No. 1 team, while Auburn is ninth.
"You do look at the field, but when it comes down to it, you've got to go out and get the job done," Mitchell said. "We know we've got to be in the top five to make it back to nationals, but our focus is to go out and win the tournament."
The other five regionals are being hosted by Virginia Tech, Florida, Indiana, Arizona and San Diego. The field for the NCAAs will be made up of 30 teams, five coming from each of the six regionals.
In Thursday's opening round of the NCAA Colorado Regional, Georgia's players will tee off in 10-minute increments between 10 and 10:40 a.m. with their counterparts from Oklahoma State and Auburn. Live scoring can be found at golfstat.com.