Men's Golf preview: NCAA Central Regional
WHAT: No. 27 Texas begins NCAA postseason play this week in the NCAA Central Regional.
LAST YEAR AT THE NCAA CENTRAL REGIONAL: Texas placed one stroke and one place shy of qualifying for the NCAA Championships when it took 11th place at the NCAA Central Regional played at Sand Ridge Golf Club in Chardon, Ohio.
The Longhorns finished with a three-day stroke total of 885 at 33-over par, as Kentucky took the final NCAA-qualifying berth at 32-over par.
TEXAS TAKES ISLEWORTH COLLEGIATE
At 12 strokes, Texas recorded the largest victory margin in the tournament's three-year history en route to its first win since the 2004 Big 12 Championships. Georgia, the 2004 and 2005 Isleworth Collegiate champion, recorded winning margins of 10 strokes and seven strokes, respectively. The Longhorns claimed the victory despite entering the event as the lowest-ranked team (GolfWeek No. 57) in the field at the time.
The Longhorns blew past the field on the strength of three top-10 individual finishes, marking the first time Texas accomplished such a feat since the 2006 Big 12 Championships when UT landed medalist Matt Rosenfeld, Jeff Bell and Matt Mills in the top ten.
Senior Matt Bortis, an Arkansas transfer, carded a one-under 71 in the final round to finish in a tie for fourth place. Junior Kevin Schultz managed a four-over 76 in the final round but placed in a tie for sixth after carding a four-under 68 in the second round. Senior Jhonattan Vegas carded a three-over 75 to finish the tournament in a tie for 10th place, marking his top individual finish of the fall.
TEXAS SCORES SECOND VICTORY AT ALOHA PURDUE COLLEGIATE
The Longhorns landed two student-athletes in the top five in senior Farren Keenan and freshman Lance Lopez. After shooting his first two rounds in the 60s, Keenan ended the tournament with a two-over 72 but still finished at one under for the tournament in a tie for fifth place. Lopez shot a one-under 69 in the final round to also finish at one under in a tie for fifth.
Lopez made his presence known right away, as he scored the top finish for Texas at the season-opening Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face, Ga. Lopez produced incredible results at the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate last October, but an inadvertent error cost him a shot at medalist honors, as he signed an incorrect scorecard after the event's opening round. Lopez regrouped and shot rounds of 69 and 65 to finish at eight-under par, though he did not place in the event due to the disqualification after the first round.
Lopez recorded his first career top-20 finish when he helped the Longhorns to victory at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational. Lopez tied for 19th place by shooting six-over par for the tournament.
He excelled at the Aloha Purdue Collegiate, where he helped the Longhorns to victory once more with a tie for fifth place at one-under par. Lopez added his second top-five finish of the season at UT's Morris Williams Intercollegiate, where he posted a career-best fourth-place finish at four-under par.
SCHULTZ EARNS ALL-BIG 12 HONORS
NCAA Central Regional Seeds