Lopez captures medalist honors as Men's Golf takes third at NCAA Austin Regional
May 16, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas junior Lance Lopez shot a one-over 72 to finish off his first collegiate tournament victory in wire-to-wire fashion Saturday while the Longhorns placed third overall at the 2009 NCAA Men's Golf Regional at the par 71, 7,412-yard University of Texas Golf Club.
With their third-place finish at 25-over par for the tournament, just three shots behind tournament champion Florida, Texas locks up one of five bids available from the regional to compete at the 2009 NCAA Championships set for May 26-30 at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
The Longhorns qualify to compete at the NCAA Championships for a third consecutive year. Since the NCAA introduced the regional qualifying tournaments in 1989, Texas has successfully navigated through 17 of 21 NCAA regional championships to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Florida shot a 10-over 294 in Saturday's final round to assume the tournament title at 22-over par while Texas Tech placed second at 24-over par. Texas took third, one shot behind the Red Raiders, and Stanford claimed the fourth NCAA Championships qualifying berth at 35-over par. Michigan took the final NCAA bid available by placing fifth at 36-over par for the tournament.
As the low-scoring individual not on one of the five teams advancing to the NCAA Championships, Lamar's Hugues Joannes earned the one NCAA Championships individual slot available by tying for fourth overall at three-over par.
Lopez (Missouri City, Texas) joins teammates Charlie Holland, Bobby Hudson and Dylan Frittelli to become the fourth current Longhorn to have won a college tournament. After ending the opening round tied for first place, Lopez opened up a four-stroke lead over UNLV's Eddie Olson after round two.
Lopez failed to disappoint in round three, as he sank five birdies on the day - including consecutive birdies at the 13th, 14th and 15th holes - to finish with his one-over 72 for the round. Lopez finished atop the leaderboard at four-under for the tournament and outdistanced second-place finisher Billy Horschel of Florida by five strokes.
Sophomore Bobby Hudson (Memphis, Tenn.) shot a six-over 77 on Saturday to finish the tournament at seven-over par and secure his top tournament finish since last fall's Turtle Bay Intercollegiate. Freshman Dylan Frittelli (Pretoria, South Africa), who, like Lopez, also has been victorious this season, tied for 23rd overall after shooting a three-over 74 in round three.
Sophomore Donald Constable (Wayzata, Minn.) shot a seven-over 78 in the final round and tied for 31st place at 12-over for the tournament. Junior Charlie Holland (Dallas, Texas) opened with a 42 on the front nine but placed a spotless back nine to salvage a seven-over 78 in the final round. Holland tied for 56th place at 20-over for the tournament.
Inclement weather plagued the final round when play was called at 10:45 a.m. due to thunderstorms in the area. Play resumed at 1:15 p.m. with cool and damp conditions prevailing the rest of the afternoon.
2009 NCAA Men's Golf Austin Regional - FINAL
On playing holes five-seven: It was brutal. The wind picked up and the rain came in, so it was hard. Five was into the wind and picked up some yardage, I hit driver, then 3-wood and didn't make it on the green. On six, I didn't get up-and-down. Then on seven, I landed on the right side of the fairway. I played that stretch 1-over.
On keeping his composure following bogeys: I could have lost (composure) very easily. You just try to talk yourself through getting those shots back, and try to keep your momentum going.
Texas Head Coach John Fields (team finished in third place at 25-over-par 877)
On advancing to the NCAA Championships: At the beginning of every year, your goal is to make it to the national championship. This team has battled back. It's been difficult to watch Charlie go through this bona fide slump, but that guy is an emotional leader for this team. So to watch him go through that is really hard on everyone else. It's been one heck of a year, but we can put all of it aside and go ahead and compete in the national championship now.
On his pride in Lopez: I'm extremely proud of him. I would think everyone who is associated with Lance at The University of Texas would be extremely proud of him. He's come a long way as a person, student and golfer. He always thought that this was what he was going to do, and it all kind of culminated this week for Lance. People in our athletic department, especially in academics, are going to be really happy for Lance.
On playing in the NCAA Championship with four different individual medalists: We have a good golf team, but we've struggled. No question about it. We've dealt with some serious adversity this year. But to be able to go to the national championship with the same team that won in Hawaii and Minnesota, well, this is just a very deserving team. We didn't capitalize on those wins as much as we should have, because we slipped into a slump, and we're getting it back.