Men's Golf Aims for Return to NCAA Championship

Cody Paladino leads Baylor with 15 career rounds in the NCAA postseason.

May 17, 2011

NCAA Florida Regional Notebook in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

 No. 42 Baylor at 2011 NCAA Florida Regional
Thursday, May 19-Saturday, May 21
 Location Ocala, Fla. (Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club)
 Host Florida
 Format 18-18-18
 Teams (14)
(1) Florida, (2) Augusta State, (3) Arkansas, (4) Oregon,
(5) N.C. State, (6), UCF, (7) BAYLOR, (8) Kennsaw State,
(9) Notre Dame, (10) Missouri, (11) Southeastern Louisiana,
(12) Jacksonville State, (13) Georgia Southern, (14) Jackson State
 Individuals Philipp Fendt (UL Lafayette), Jack Hiluta (South Alabama),
Jacobo Pastor (Charleston Southern, Andrew Noto (UL Lafayette),
Bradley Story (Alabama A&M)
Joakim Mikkelsen, Ryan O'Rear, Jerry Ruiz,
Cody Paladino, Payne Gniewek

 Internet Live results available at

OCALA, Fla. – Baylor aims for its second consecutive NCAA Championship berth as the men’s golf team is competing in the NCAA Florida Regional at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club.

The 54-hole regional tournament will be held Thursday, May 19-Saturday, May 21 at the par-72, 6,994-yard Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club. The low five teams and the low individual not on an advancing team will move on to the 114th annual NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, which will be held May 31-June 5 at Karsten Creek Golf Course in Stillwater, Okla.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to go back to Regionals for the 14th consecutive year,” head coach Greg Priest said. “Our guys played well at the end of the year to get the chance to go back to the postseason. After last year’s success, they know they can (advance to the NCAA Championship) year-in and year-out.”

No. 7 seed Baylor, one of 14 teams tabbed for the NCAA Florida Regional, is making its 14th consecutive NCAA postseason appearance. It also serves as Baylor’s first postseason appearance in Florida. Last season, the Bears advanced to the NCAA Championship for only the fifth time in program history after defeating Georgia in a playoff at the NCAA South Central Regional in Bryan, Texas. The Bears concluded the 2009-10 season with a 25th-place finish at the NCAA Championship in Ooltewah, Tenn.

Baylor, which is receiving votes in the latest Golf World/NIKE Division I Coaches’ Poll, is one of eight schools ranked in the top 50 of the latest Golfstat standings – Florida (No. 5), defending national champion Augusta State (No. 6), Arkansas (No. 17), Oregon (No. 20), N.C. State (No. 29), UCF (No. 32), Baylor (No. 42) and Kennesaw State (No. 43). The remainder of the 14-team NCAA Florida Regional field includes Notre Dame, Missouri, Southeastern Louisiana, Jacksonville State, Georgia Southern and Jackson State.

“I like our chances,” Priest said. “If we play well, we’ll get through, but it’ll take good golf just like any other tournament during the season.”

Baylor’s NCAA Regional lineup is loaded with experience; four of Baylor’s five golfers played in the 2010 NCAA South Central Regional and NCAA Championship. The Bears are led by veterans Joakim Mikkelsen, Cody Paladino and Payne Gniewek, who have played a combined 36 career rounds in NCAA postseason events.

“The experience in our lineup is huge,” Priest said. “Unlike years past, now we have the depth which has really helped us. Both Cody (Paladino) and Payne (Gniewek) will be making their fourth NCAA Regional appearance; Joakim (Mikkelsen) is making his third.”

Mikkelsen leads Baylor in every major statistical category, including percentage of rounds counted (96.8), scoring average (72.35), score vs. par (1.10) and rounds of par or better (13). The Drammen, Norway, product also has three top-10, five top-15 and nine top-25 finishes in 10 total tournaments. Rounding out Baylor’s lineup are sophomores Ryan O’Rear and Jerry Ruiz. Ruiz, a native of Puebla, Mexico, will make his NCAA postseason debut in Florida.

“Experience is huge and now they know what to expect,” Priest said. “It’s a lot of pressure and it all comes down to one tournament (to continue your season). But we’ve been here before and now we have to be ready to step up when it’s time.”

Baylor will begin its NCAA Championship hunt Thursday beginning at 7:50 a.m. CDT from the No. 1 tee box. Live scoring for each round of the 2011 NCAA Florida Regional will be available at



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