March Madness has inspired a new qualifying structure for the Spring 2013 NCCGA National Championship. With nine Regions, over 100 clubs from Boston to Los Angeles, and thousands of members, NCCGA's wildcard system ranks all of the club golf teams which competed in the NCCGA Spring Regionals. Previously, only teams which finished first or second in their Region qualified for nationals; with the new changes, fourteen teams will now travel to Purdue University to compete on the Kampen Course on April 27th and 28th.
In addition to the wildcard rankings, the Association has approved an exemption for the past semester’s National Champion. In the 2012 Fall Nationals, East Carolina University pulled in front of the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill after the teams entered the final day tied. The Pirates shot a final round of 383 to edge out the Tar Heels by 7 shots on the Seaside Course at the Sea Island Resort in Georgia. Although ECU did not have any outstanding performances in this year’s regional tournaments, they have the strongest history at previous NCCGA National Championships. In the past four semesters, ECU has won three National titles. ECU’s leading player is Tom Duty who was the National Medalist this past Fall firing an impressive 70-73. Duty’s talented core of teammates have also solidified the team’s dominance over the past two years.
The schools that finished best in their Region received automatic bid to Nationals this semester. The nine winning teams include: University of Arizona (California), University of Virginia (Capitol), University of Wisconsin (Central), Ohio State University (Midwest), University of New Hampshire (New England), University of North Carolina- Wilmington (North Carolina), University of Delaware (Northeast), East Tennessee State University (South), Texas A&M University (Texas).
In selecting the final four wild card club golf teams, NCCGA's Board compared each school’s performance in their Regional Tournaments. In order to account for the different course difficulties and par for the course, the Board used the courses’ slopes and ratings to "standardize" the scores, therby using the same formula as the USGA to determined the power rankings (see end of article). North Carolina State University (North Carolina), University of Michigan (Midwest), University of Pittsburgh (Northeast), and Southern Methodist University (Texas) demonstrated championship-worthy golf which earned their tickets to Purdue.
Based on the standardized scores, the two clear front runners are the University of Delaware and Ohio State University. Both schools won their two Regional Tournaments and have the first and second overall rankings in the nation separated by less than a stroke. Individually, Delaware is led by Matthew Lombardi (T1 and 4th) and Robert Anderson (T1 and T2). Not to be overlooked, Ohio State has also had some solid individual performances by NCCGA President Kevin Hamori (1st and T9) and Austin Cuervo (T33 and 2nd). Hamori and Cuervo lead the Buckeyes to one of the best team performances with a score of 751 (+31).
Historically, the NCCGA has seen strong play from the South Region, and East Tennessee State University, which fired 767 (+47) in their second regional to win the tournament and edge out the University of South Carolina in a tiebreaker for their Region’s automatic bid, is continuing that trend. ETSU’s ability to go low pairs well with their experience from winning the National title last Spring at the Homestead - Cascades Course.
Leading the North Carolina Region are the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and North Carolina State as the two schools are the third and fourth ranked club golf teams respectively in the nation. UNC-W received a bid by winning their region while NC State finished one stroke behind them, thereby earning the No. 1 wildcard position.
Representing the newly formed Texas Region, Texas A&M University will be attending Nationals after finishing second and first in their regional tournaments. The second newest region--started by UCLA's Victoria Leon--is the California Region which will be represented by the University of Arizona team which finished second and first in their Regional Tournaments.
Adding a further wrinkle to the mix, the National Championship this fall will mark the first time the Association has allowed individuals to qualify. In an effort to allow the best competition, NCCGA took the top players as compared to par from those schools that did not already qualify for Nationals. The top 9 players (7th through 9th tied at 317) from teams that did not qualify for Nationals are shown below the National Rankings.
In the final days leading up to the National Championship, each player will be preparing for the deep bunkers, thick fescue, and treacherous water hazards that Pete Dye has masterfully laid out at the nationally acclaimed Kampen Course. A win in Indiana will engrave a school’s name on the NCCGA trophy which has been passed on from the winning non-varsity club team since 2011.
7. East Tennessee State University*
10. University of Pittsburgh**
20. East Carolina University***
23. Virginia Tech
25. Boston College
*- denotes top school in Region
**- denotes wildcard
***- denotes last year’s National Champion
Schools from each Region in Top 25
North Carolina- 4
New England- 2
Individuals Attending Nationals
Sean Heintzelman (University of Maryland)
Trey Profili (University of Maryland)
Richie Steinwand (Virginia Tech)
John Peterson (Pennsylvania State University)
Rick Weber (University of Missouri)
Dan Wiegandt (University of Notre Dame)
Matt Weinberger (University of Dayton)
Josh Rinear (University of Dayton)
Nick Peterson (James Madison University)
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