May 22, 2010
BRYAN, Texas - Baylor earned the fifth NCAA Men's Golf Championships berth in school history Saturday as the Bears held off the Georgia Bulldogs on the first playoff hole at the NCAA South Central Regional.
The Championships berth marks the first for Baylor under seventh-year head coach Greg Priest and only the second of the Big 12 era. Baylor last advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2002, when it finished 19th. The Bears also played in the NCAA Championships in 1960, 1966 and 1967.
Baylor and Georgia were tied for fifth place after 54 holes at 5-over 869. With the first - and deciding - playoff hole set on the par-4 No. 18, the Bears and Bulldogs were broken up into two groups. The first group was Bryant Macpherson (par), T.J. Mitchell (2-over) and Rob Bennett (1-over) of Georgia and Ryan O'Rear (par) and Cody Paladino (par) of Baylor. The second group was Russell Henley (par) and Harris English (par) of Georgia and Payne Gniewek (par), Lorenzo Scotto (1-over) and Joakim Mikkelsen (1-under) of Baylor. After dropping the high score, Baylor was 1-under and Georgia was 1-over, which allowed the Bears to advance to the NCAA Championships.
Sophomore Joakim Mikkelsen, who entered the regional as the team leader in nearly every statistical category, sunk a birdie putt in the second group on hole No. 18 to clinch Baylor's spot in the Championships. Before Mikkelsen's playoff birdie, Baylor was 3-over as a team on No. 18 Saturday.
"I'm just so proud of the way our guys battled back," Priest said. "We did what we needed to do today. We played really good in the beginning and, as we came down the stretch, we made some bogeys and opened the door for someone to catch us."
Texas Tech, Texas A&M, TCU and North Florida also advanced to the NCAA Championships from the South Central Regional. No. 10 Texas Tech shot 3-under Saturday to win the regional at 13-under, one stroke ahead of host and third-ranked Texas A&M (12-under). TCU finished third at 6-under, followed by North Florida in fourth at 5-under.
"Georgia's a great team," Priest said. "They are usually in the NCAA Championships every year and they have won the national title in 1999 and 2005. In that playoff, our guys stepped up and we got it done."
After a career-low 66 during Friday's second round, Payne Gniewek carded a 1-over 73 to tie for 11th overall at 2-under (75-66-73=214). Lorenzo Scotto turned in Baylor's only sub-par final round, firing a 71 to finish tied for 23rd at 3-over (75-73-71=219). Freshman Ryan O'Rear tied for 30th at 5-over (69-79-73=221), while Mikkelsen posted his second consecutive even-par round of 72. The Drammen, Norway, native finished 40th at 7-over (79-72-72=223).
Cody Paladino, who advanced to the 2009 NCAA Championships as an individual, tied for 54th overall at 13-over (72-78-79=229).
Baylor is one of 30 teams that will compete at the 113th annual NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships, which will be conducted June 1-6 at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.
NCAA SOUTH CENTRAL REGIONAL
|1.|| Texas Tech||-13||282-284-285=851|
|2.|| Texas A&M||-12||277-288-287=852|
|4.|| North Florida||-5||280-298-281=859|
|12.|| North Carolina||+46||301-311-298=910|
Baylor Individual Results