NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame men's golf team has been tabbed to play in the Florida Regional of the 2011 NCAA Men's Golf Championship, it was announced by the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Committee on Monday. The Irish earned the automatic qualifying berth from the BIG EAST after winning the conference tournament (April 17-19) for the seventh time in program history.
"It's great to be headed back to NCAAs," said Irish head coach Jim Kubinski. "I think with the fall season we had, being ranked where we were into March, and then doing such a solid job in winning the BIG EAST, our guys feel we're capable of playing with anyone. I felt we did a great job in 90 percent of the rounds we played this year. I know we'll finish up final exams here on Thursday and be ready for a productive week of preparation, with an eye on playing toward our goal the next few weeks."
The University of Florida, who is the regional's No. 1 seeded team, will serve as host of the regional, which will take place at Golden Ocala Golf Club in Ocala, Fla.
The regional format is made up of six 54-hole regional tournaments being conducted May 19-21. Thirteen teams and ten individuals not on those teams will compete at each of three regionals while the other three regionals will have 14 teams and five individuals not on those teams. The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championship.
The Championship will be conducted May 31-June 5, at Karsten Creek Golf Course in Stillwater, Okla. Oklahoma State will serve as the host institution for this year's championship.
This will mark the 34th time that the Irish have qualified for postseason competition with the team winning the title once back in 1944. Additionally, the Irish finished runner-up in 1937 and third place in 1931, '33, '36 and '51 while finishing in the top 10 on 19 other occasions.
The Irish, on the heels of an 81-24 record that saw them claim three victories and four runner-up results on the year, return to the tournament for the first time since '05-06 when Kubinski coached his squad to a 17th-place finish (out of 27 regional teams). Junior Max Scodro, coming into the tournament after winning the BIG EAST individual title, will look to anchor the Notre Dame lineup heading into regional play.
Joining the Irish, who rank 54th according to Golfstat, at the Florida Regional will be (Golfstat ranking in parenthesis): Florida (5), Augusta State (6), Arkansas (17), Oregon (20), N.C. State (28), UCF (32), Baylor (42), Kennesaw State (43), Missouri (56), Southeastern Louisiana (65), Jacksonville State (80), Georgia Southern (115) and Jackson State (233).
"No matter what region a team competes in, there will be strong competition," remarked Kubinski. "I think our draw is favorable though. Our current ranking, and therefore our seeding, is deceiving. I think we can play our way through Regionals, assuming we stay healthy and bring our typical game. We're certainly excited for this opportunity. We have several players who deserve a chance to show what they can do on the big stage. There's no bigger stage in amateur golf than the NCAA Championship. We'll be ready."
Notre Dame has faced five of the 14 teams in the Florida Regional at some point during the '10-11 season, posting a combined record of 2-4 against Florida (0-1), Georgia Southern (0-1), Jackson State (1-0), Missouri (1-0) and N.C. State (0-2).
Among the notable individuals competing with their teams at the Florida Regional will be the Gators' pair of Bank Vongvanij and Phillip Choi who rank third and ninth respectively, according to Golfstat, and 10th-ranked Jeff Karlsson of Kennesaw State. Also joining the teams at the Florida Regional will be Philipp Fendt of Louisiana-Lafayette, Jack Hiluta of South Alabama, Jacobo Pastor of Charleston Southern, Andrew Noto of Louisiana-Lafayette and Bradley Story of Alabama A&M, who have been selected as individual qualifiers.
For a complete listing of the six regionals and its participants please visit www.ncaa.com/news/golf-men.
NCAA Tournament Florida Regional Field (In order of Regional Seeding):
2. Augusta State
5. N.C. State
8. Kennesaw State
9. Notre Dame
11. Southeastern Louisiana
12. Jacksonville State
13. Georgia Southern
14. Jackson State
1. Philipp Fendt, Louisiana-Lafayette
2. Jack Hiluta, South Alabama
3. Jacobo Pastor, Charleston Southern
4. Andrew Noto, Louisiana-Lafayette
5. Bradley Story, Alabama A&M