GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina men’s golf team earned its first at-large NCAA regional bid, as the Pirates were selected as one of 81 schools that will compete at one of six tournament sites, May 19-21, the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Committee announced Monday evening.
ECU, which will be making just its second NCAA regional appearance and first since 1991, is seeded No. 9 among the 13 teams headed to the regional in Radford, Va., hosted by Virginia Tech, at Pete Dye River Course.
“When we started to rebuild this program five years ago, this was one of our goals, but not our ultimate goal,” fifth-year Pirate head coach Press McPhaul said. “Being selected gives us a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, but it’s just a benchmark along the road of getting to the finals.
“We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us and a job to do when we get there. Our guys are going to have to acclimate themselves to the regional environment and course very quickly.”
Joining the Pirates at the regional site are a foursome of Top 20 teams, including No. 1 seed Georgia Tech, who is ranked fifth in the latest Golf World/NIKE Golf Division I Coaches’ Poll. Ninth-ranked LSU is the No. 2 seed, with a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference teams seeded third and fourth, No. 16 Duke and No. 18 Virginia. Oklahoma and Kent State round out the top six followed by Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, ECU, UNC Wilmington, Coastal Carolina, Lamar and Yale.
The Pirates will play 18 holes each of the three days with a practice round on Wednesday. ECU will be paired with Virginia Tech and Ole Miss for the first two rounds, teeing off Thursday from the first tee at 8:50 a.m. and beginning from the 10th hole at 8 a.m. on Friday. The top five squads and the low individual not on those teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA national championships at Kartens Creek in Stillwater, Okla., May 31-June 5.
East Carolina made its only other previous NCAA regional appearance in 1991, when they played in the East Regional in New Haven, Conn., finishing 19th. It will mark the second straight season in which ECU has sent at least one golfer to the regional after junior Harold Varner competed as an individual at the Yale Regional a year ago.
The Pirates are currently ranked 51st nationally by golfstat.com and are 35th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Ratings. ECU won two tournaments this season with an additional five top-5 finishes, while setting school records for lowest 18 and 54 hole scores.