ATHENS, Ga.. - Despite its worst round of the tournament, the East Carolina men's golf team secured its first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Championships with a second-place finish at the NCAA Athens Regional Saturday at the University of Georgia Golf Course.
The 33rd-ranked Pirates earn their first trip to the NCAA Championships after finishing among the top five teams at the regional. The NCAA Championships will be held at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., beginning May 29.
"This is a great moment for East Carolina golf," Pirate head coach Press McPhaul said. "It's the affirmation of dreaming, hard work and sacrifice that began several years ago.
"The goal has never been to to merely make it to the finals, but to go with the mindset to compete and play to win. That's how we intended to represent East Carolina University."
ECU finished the three-day, 54-hole tournament at 1-over 853 (276-281-296). Although the Pirates shot 12-over Saturday, they finished five strokes ahead of No. 10 North Florida in third-place, 11 strokes in front of No. 24 Georgia in fourth and distanced themselves by 13 strokes from No. 27 Iowa in fifth.
Top-seeded Alabama, which carries a No. 4 national ranking, captured the regional title going away, finishing 23 strokes ahead of the second-place Pirates. The Crimson Tide completed the regional at 24-under (269-276-283=828) and were the only team to shoot under-par (-1) Saturday.
Sophomore Ryan Eibner was the Pirates' low scorer. He finished tied for fourth-place at 3-under 210 (67-68-75). Senior Harold Varner finished tied for 12th at par-213, senior Adam Stephenson carded a 4-over 217 to tie for 21st. Sophomore Zach Edmondson finished tied for 29th at 6-over 219 with senior David Watkins shooting a three-round total of 11-over 224.
The Crimson Tide claimed the top three individual spots with Justin Thomas winning medalist honors at 9-under 204 (67-67-70). Bobby Wyatt finished in second-place at 8-under followed by Cory Whitsett in third at 5-under.
Practice rounds for the NCAA Championships begin Monday, May 28 with the first round of competition commencing the following day.