Eagles Prepare for NCAA Regional This Week
STATESBORO, GA Only 81 teams remain for the 2008-09 collegiate men’s golf season and the Georgia Southern Eagles have made their mark as one of them. The Eagles prepare this week for the NCAA Regional which they will travel to Sorrento, Fla. to take part in May 14-16. The top five teams of all six regionals as well as the top individual not on the selected teams will advance to the NCAA Championship to be contested in Toledo, Ohio at the Inverness Country Club May 26-30.
Georgia Southern owns the No. 9 seed in the 14-team field of the South Regional to be challenged at the Red Tail Golf Club, a par-71, 7,152 yard course. In addition to the 14 teams, five individuals will be on hand in Florida competing for the single individual spot to advance to the championship. The ninth-seeded Eagles will make their eighth overall appearance in an NCAA Regional and seventh in the nine seasons of head coach Larry Mays’ tenure.
“We like what we are doing right now as a team. We are rounding into shape here at the end of the year,” said Georgia Southern coach Mays. “I’m looking forward to getting down there and seeing where we stack up. Hopefully we’ll play good enough to march on to Toledo, Ohio and the National Championship.”
Joining Georgia Southern in Florida will be Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Central Florida, Florida State, Arizona, Augusta State, Kentucky, Georgia State, Iowa, Charlotte, Campbell and Loyola. Fifteen different conferences are represented with the SEC presenting the most at three schools. According to the latest Golfweek/Saragin rankings, 13 of the 14 schools are ranked in the top 100, including nine in the top 50. Georgia enters the tournament ranked first in the country.
“Obviously you know there are five spots available to move on. Closer to the end of the tournament, like any other college tournament, it will get close for the spot,” said Mays. “The only thing we’ll be doing a little different is we’ll be watching the scoreboard a little more than we would for a normal tournament.”
The 54-hole event begins Thursday morning at 8:30 with Georgia Southern teeing off in the second wave at 9:20 a.m. off hole one. The Eagles will be paired with Augusta State and Kentucky for the opening round.
Georgia Southern will bring the Southern Conference Tournament team of sophomores Logan Blondell and Joe Monte, junior Spencer Fulford and seniors Drew Lethem and Ryan LeFevre. That quintet has a season stroke average of 73.65 in 123 total competitive rounds, two individual tournament champions and finished runners-up at the SoCon Championship.
“We’re focused. We’ve got a good group. They understand the drill,” Mays stated. “We’ve got a good group of guys that I think have been focused throughout the whole year. It’s been one of the better years as far as team chemistry and team focus goes.
For the most part, we got what we feel are our best five guys from the whole year. We’re going to put our five guys up against the other five guys on the other teams and tee it up, see where we’re at. Hopefully when it all shakes out, we’ll be inside that number headed to the National Championship.”
THE LAST TIME...
This postseason bid marks the first appearance by Georgia Southern in an NCAA Regional since 2006. The Eagles appeared in six consecutive regionals before then dating back to 2001 when Larry Mays took over the helm of the program. Mays returned Georgia Southern to the NCAAs for the first time in 12 years as the last showing for the Eagles in a regional was in 1989. Of the six trips to the regionals under Mays, Georgia Southern has advanced to the Championship three times. Before the 1989 regional format was instituted, Georgia Southern took part in eight NCAA Championships.
A TEAM OF CHAMPIONS...
Within the quintet of Eagles competing in the Regional, three tournament crowns were captured over the course of the 2008-09 season. Sophomore Logan Blondell owns two of the three titles won this season, having captured the Mizuno Savannah Intercollegiate in the fall and the Kaua’i Collegiate Cup in the spring. Blondell’s 8-under 208 tournament winning total in Hawai’i marked the lowest of his career.
Senior Drew Lethem became only the second Eagle in Georgia Southern golf history to win the Southern Conference Individual Title. Lethem’s opening round 66, a career low, set the tone for the Camdenton, Missouri native for the rest of the tournament. The Eagle followed his 66 with consecutive even-par 72s to claim the individual title.
MEDALS OF HONOR...
Georgia Southern was recognized for its season of excellence by the Southern Conference after the conclusion of the conference tournament. Logan Blondell and Drew Lethem were each named to the All-Conference team for their performances during the season. Succeeding his Freshman of the Year honor last season, Blondell triumphed this season earning the prestigious Player of the Year recognition. For the second time in his coaching career at Georgia Southern, Larry Mays was awarded Coach of the Year honors.
Fans can follow the action of the NCAA Regionals by visiting www.Golfstat.com.
- Category: Golf
- Published on Tuesday, 12 May 2009 11:59