With Oklahoma State, No. 1 in the latest Golfstat rankings, determined to get back home where the NCAA Championship will be held on its home course, Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., the NCAA regionals teed off at six sites around the country Monday.
The Cowboys jumped in front with a solid 3-under-par 281 at The Ohio State University’s tough, 7,364-yard, par-71 Scarlet Course, a shot ahead of No. 24 UNLV, which checked in with a solid 2-under 282.
Big Ten champion Illinois, ranked 12th and the second seed in the regional behind Oklahoma State, is third at even-par 288. The Illini were followed by two more Big Ten entries as No. 25 Northwestern is fourth at 8-over 292 and No. 37 Penn State is fifth at 9-over 293. Yale, which won the Ivy League championship at Stonewall’s Old Course last month, was the last of 13 at 312.
The top five teams and the top individual not on one of the advancing teams will advance to the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek.
Oklahoma State was led by three players who were among the group of five tied for third at 1-under 70, Matthew Wolff, a freshman from Agoura Hills, Calif., Kristoffer Ventura, a senior from Norway, and Austin Eckroat, a freshman from Edmond, Okla.
Zach Bauchou, a junior from Forest, Va., gave the Cowboys four players among the top eight as he is in the group tied for eighth at even-par 71. Rounding out the Oklahoma State lineup was Viktor Hovland, a sophomore from Norway and the No. 7 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), who is in the group tied for 18th at 2-over 73.
Illinois’ Michael Feagles, a sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz., grabbed the individual lead with a 3-under 68. UNLV’s Garrick Higgo, a freshman from South Africa, is a shot back in second with a 2-under 69. Five more players, including that trio from Oklahoma State, are lurking in third at 1-under 70.
It was a little bit of a disappointing start for Penn State senior Cole Miller, the Northwestern Lehigh product who claimed the individual title in the Washington Regional and led by Nittany Lions to the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms last spring.
Miller, who earned a ticket to U.S. Open sectional qualifying in a local qualifier at DuPont Country Club last week, carded a 3-over 74 and is among the group tied for 27th.
But the Nittany Lions, ranked 37th and seeded seventh, outplayed their ranking and their seeding. Penn State was led by junior JD Hughes, a former Carlisle standout who won the Pennsylvania Amateur crown last summer at White Manor Country Club. Hughes matched par with a 71 and is in the group tied for eighth.
Charles Huntzinger, the steady junior from Duluth, Ga., is in the group tied for 18th at 2-over 73. Following Miller was Ryan Davis, a sophomore from Berkeley Heights, N.J. who is in the group tied for 30th at 4-over 75. Rounding out the Penn State lineup was Alec Bard, a sophomore from New Hartford, N.Y. who is in the group tied for 61st after an opening-round 79.
At the rainy Kissimmee Regional, No. 8 Florida and No. 57 Central Florida shared the top spot, each carding a 12-under 276 over the Reunion Resort’s 7,154-yard, par -72 Watson Course. Play was delayed more than an hour by a downpour and it looks like more dicey weather is in store in South Florida.
No. 29 Kent State is four shots behind the top two in third at 6-under 282 and American Athletic Conference champion South Florida, ranked 20th, is alone in fourth at 6-under 282. No. 5 Vanderbilt, the region’s top seed, and No. 17 North Carolina are tied for fifth at 5-under 283.
Former Haverford School standout Cole Berman and Big East champion Georgetown are in 13th place in the 14-team field, although the Hoyas’ 9-over 297 total is only 11 shots out of eighth place.
Two of the four players tied for the individual lead at 5-under 67 – Juuso Kahlos, a senior from Finland, and Bobby Bai, a sophomore from China -- are leading the way for UCF. Joining them in the foursome tied at the top are Arizona’s George Cunningham, a senior form Tucson, Ariz. and Kent State’s Chase Johnson, a senior from Barberton, Ohio.
Florida was led by two players – Gordon Meade, a junior from Dove Canyon, Calif. and Southeast Conference individual champion Andy Zhang, a sophomore from Reunion, Fla. – in the group of four players tied for fifth, just a shot behind the four co-leaders at 4-under 68.
Georgetown was led by Eduardo Blochtein, a sophomore from Delray Beach, Fla. who is in the group tied for 33rd at even-par 72. Jack Musgrave, a senior from Chesterton, Ind., and Patrick DiPasquale, a sophomore from Rochester, N.Y., are in the group tied for 47th at 2-over 74.
The two other seniors, Sam Madsen of Madison, Wis., and Berman, the 2015 BMW Philadelphia Amateur champion, struggled a little. Madsen is in the group tied for 65th at 77 and Berman is a shot behind him in the group tied for 68th at 78.
Musgrave, Madsen and Berman are finishing up their Georgetown careers with their second trip to the NCAA regionals in three years.
In the Raleigh Regional, Texas, probably a little underrated at No. 16, grabbed a three-shot lead over No. 4 and top-seeded Georgia Tech, the ACC champion, with a 13-under 271 over the 7,273-yard, par-71 Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State.
Georgia Tech carded a solid 10-under 274 with No. 36 North Carolina State, playing on its home course, just a shot behind the Yellow Jackets in third at 9-under 275. No. 25 Arizona State and No. 52 Santa Clara are tied for fifth at 8-under 276.
The Longhorns were led by Doug Ghim, the senior from Arlington Heights, Ill. who was the low amateur in last month’s Masters and is the No. 3 player in the WAGR. Ghim, the Big 12 individual champion, fired a sizzling 7-under 64 to share the individual lead with Iona’s Justin Burkhamer, a freshman from Palm Beach, Fla.
Texas has three players in the group tied for 15th at 2-under 69, including Scottie Scheffler, a senior from Dallas who was the low amateur in last summer’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills, Spencer Soosman, a sophomore from Westlake Village, Calif., and Steven Chervony, a junior from Boca Raton, Fla. Rounding out the Texas lineup was Drew Jones, a redshirt freshman from Decatur, Texas who is the group tied for 61st after posting a 4-over 75.
Three players – N.C. State’s Stephen Franken, a junior from Raleigh, N.C., Arizona State’s Chun An Yu, a sophomore from Taiwan, and Santa Clara’s Jack Avrit, a freshman from San Luis Obispo, Calif. -- are tied for third in the individual standings behind Ghim and Burkhamer at 6-under 65.
In the Bryan Regional, No. 2 and top-seeded Texas A&M, playing on The Traditions Club, its 7,121-yard, par-72 home track, grabbed the lead with a 9-under 279.
No. 11 Baylor, seeded second in the region, is three shots behind the Aggies in second at 6-under 282. No. 14 Clemson is third at 5-under 283, No. 26 UCLA is fourth at even-par 288 and No. 38 South Carolina is fifth at 5-over 293.
Two Aggies -- Chandler Phillips, a senior from Huntsville, Texas and the No. 15 player in the WAGR, and Brandon Smith, a sophomore from Frisco, Texas – are among a trio tied for the individual lead at 4-under 68.
Also for Texas A&M, Dan Erickson, a sophomore from Whittier, Calif., is in the group tied for 12th at 1-under 71, Andrew Paysse, a senior from Temple, Texas, is in the group tied for 19th at even-par 72 and Walker Lee, a freshman from Houston, is in the group tied for 22nd at 1-over 73.
Joining Phillips and Smith atop the individual standings at 4-under 68 is Baylor’s Cooper Dossey, a sophomore from Austin, Texas.
Mississippi’s Braden Thornberry, a junior from Olive Branch, Miss. and the reigning NCAA individual champion, heads a group of three players tied for fourth at 3-under 69. Thornberry, a member of the winning U.S. Walker Cup team last summer, is No. 2 in the WAGR.
Joining Thornberry at 3-under 69 were UCLA’s Cole Madey, a junior from West Linn, Ore., and Kentucky’s Chip McDaniel, a senior from Manchester, Ky.
In the Norman Regional, reigning national champion Oklahoma, ranked third and the top seed, took a five-shot lead over three teams on its home course, the 7,452-yard, par-72 Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club with a 5-under 283 start.
No. 10 Auburn, still riding the momentum from its SEC championship run, No. 15 Arkansas and No. 27 North Florida are tied for second at even-par 288. No. 51 San Diego State holds down the fifth spot after carding a solid 2-over 290.
Oklahoma, the Big 12 champion, was led by individual leader Blaine Hale, a junior from Dallas who carded a 5-under 57. Teammate Quade Cummins, a redshirt sophomore from Weatherford, Okla., shares second place with Arkansas’ William Buhl, a sophomore form Fairhope, Ala., at 3-under 69, two shots behind Hale.
Also for the Sooners, Garett Reband, a sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas, is in the group tied for 16th at even-par 72 and Brad Dalke, a junior home boy from Norman, Okla. and the 2016 U.S. Amateur runnerup, and Grant Hirschman, a senior from Collierville, Tenn., are in the group tied for 36th at 3-over 75. The scary part about that equation is that Dalke and Hirschman are Oklahoma’s two best players and are only going to play better.
Finally, out west in the Stockton Regional, a couple of Midwest upstarts, No. 55 Iowa State and seeded 10th, and No. 43 Kansas, seeded eighth, are ahead of the pack at The Reserve at Spanos Park, a 7,239-yard, par-72 layout.
The Cyclones, who were a solid fourth in the Big 12 Championship, fired a 10-under 278 to grab a three-shot lead over the Jayhawks, who posted a 7-under 281. No. 7 Alabama, the SEC runnerup and seeded second, is alone in third at 6-uneer 282, No. 31 TCU is fourth at 5-under 283 and No. 18 Stanford is another two shots behind the Horned Frogs in fifth at 3-under 285.
Leading the way for the Cyclone was Denzel Ieremia, a redshirt senior from New Zealand who landed in a group of four players tied for fourth at 4-under 68. Sophomore Sam Vincent, another New Zealander, is in the group tied for eighth at 3-under 69.
Also for Iowa State, Frank Lindwall, a freshman from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is in the group tied for 13th at 2-under 70, Lachlan Barker, a freshman from Australia, is in the group tied for 19th at 1-under 71 and Tripp Kinney, a sophomore form Waukee, Iowa, is in the group tied for 52nd at 3-over 75.
Kansas’ Daniel Sutton, a senior from England, grabbed a share of the individual lead with a 5-under 67. Joining him at that figure were Stanford’s Brandon Wu, a junior from Danville Calif., and one of the individual entrants, UC-Davis’ Ryan Han, a junior from Hollister, Calif.
Also in the foursome along with Iowa State’s Ieremia tied for fourth at 4-under 68 is Oregon’s Norman Xiong, a sophomore from Canyon Lake, Calif. and the No. 4 player in the WAGR. Xiong won three matches and halved a fourth for the U.S. team in its dominant 19-7 victory over Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup Match at Los Angeles Country Club last summer.
Joining Ieremia and Xiong at 4-under 68 were Alabama’s Jonathan Hardee, a senior veteran for the Crimson Tide from Greer, S.C., and another individual entrant, Washington’s Carl Yuan, a junior from Orlando, Fla.