May 7, 2013 10:35:10 AM
Matthew Stevens - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State University men's golf team had a plan and is prepared for its first NCAA Regional appearance in three years.
Following a season that included a school-record four tournament victories, No. 23 MSU was given a No. 4 seed and placed in the Baton Rouge Regional at the home course of Southeastern Conference rival LSU. MSU coach Clay Homan's first thought Monday night watching the NCAA Champion selection show at Buffalo Wild Wings in Starkville was his team already has an idea how it will attack he course at the University Club on May 16-18.
"One of the main reasons we played in LSU's tournament this fall because our goal all year is to make a NCAA Regional," Homan said. "We knew we could be sent there, so it should prove helpful for our local knowledge. The greens are just so severe there and you have to know where you can miss it in the right spots."
MSU shot a 54-over 918 to tie for fourth at the David Toms Intercollegiate on Oct. 6-7 at the University Club.
Homan is confident the players in his five-man lineup, including Chad Ramey, Axel Boasson, and Robi Calvesbert, will be able to cope with the length of the University Club course, and that it could be an advantage for his team.
"We have a team where we want driver in our hands in the tee box," Homan said. "Robbie is a very good driver, and Axel is just a bomber off the tee, so we felt like a big and open golf course off the tee is good for us."
The University Club is a 7,700-yard, par 72 Championship-Caliber course designed by PGA Tour player David Toms. Eleven of the 14 par-4 holes are more than 440 yards, which will force the players to use mid to long irons in their approach shots on the extremely undulating greens. The course conditions combined with the weather put a premium on players shooting par, which could work to MSU's experience. Ramey, Boasson, Barrett Edens, and Joe Sakulpolphaisan are juniors, while Calvesbert is a senior. Those five have been mainstays in MSU's lineup this season.
"We've got a week to prepare with school being out with a veteran group that is playing with so much confidence," Homan said. "They're an even-keeled and very mature group, and I don't know how we'll play, but I expect them to be ready for whatever challenge awaits them."
Other power programs selected to their regional includes Southeastern Conference foes No. 2 ranked and top seeded University of Alabama, No. 10 University of Florida, No. 17 LSU, No. 38 University of Tennessee, and No. 47 University of South Alabama.
Ramey is the only MSU player with postseason experience. He made the NCAA Southeast Regional in Athens, Ga., last season. The All-SEC First-Team member tied for 45th. This season, the Fulton native notched 71.89 average card, which is second all-time in MSU history. Ramey is 58th in the nation, according to the latest Golf Week individual poll. He is coming off a fifth-place finish in the SEC Championships.
"We feel like the SEC Championships is maybe as good a field as you'll find anywhere in the country for one team event, and we finished top five there," Ramey said. "We feel like that gives us momentum and a sense we can finish top five anywhere."
Six 54-hole regional tournaments will be played May 16-18. The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams from each regional will advance to the finals. The finals will be May 28-June 2 at The Capital City Club, Crabapple Course in Atlanta. Georgia Tech University will be the host school.
Alabama, which earned its ninth-straight NCAA Championship invitation, will be the top seed and will feature four of the top individuals in the nation: Cory Whitsett (No. 3), Bobby Wyatt (No. 5), Justin Thomas (No. 8), and Trey Mullinax (No. 29).
It is the fourth time in the last six years the Crimson Tide has garnered a No. 1 seed at a NCAA Regional. The Tide was also a No. 1 seed in 2008, 2011 and 2012 advancing to the NCAA Championships in all three seasons. UA was a No. 2 seed in 2009 when it won the NCAA Galloway (N.J.) Regional.
Florida (No. 2), LSU (No. 3), and the University of Houston (No. 5) are the top seeds. Northwestern University, Tennessee, South Alabama, Coastal Carolina University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Wichita State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Houston Baptist will round out the field.
Individually, University of Mississippi sophomore Blake Morris was one of 10 selected to compete in the regional. The Waterbury, Conn., native registered five top-20 finishes this season, including a team-high four top-five finishes. He carded a three-round total of 231 to tie for 17th at the David Toms Intercollegiate earlier this season.