May 17, 2014
Site: Sugar Grove, Ill.
Course: Rich Harvest Farms Course (par 72, 7,151 yards)
Tournament: NCAA Regional (Day 3)
U-M Team Standing: No Team Score
Top U-M Individual: Chris O'Neill, tie-20th (77-71-77/225)
Next U-M Event: Season Complete
SUGAR GROVE, Ill. -- University of Michigan men's golf sophomore Chris O'Neill (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run HS) completed his final round of play at the Sugar Grove, Ill., NCAA Regional today (Saturday, May 17) to finish with a 225 total for the weekend, placing him in a tie for 20th in his first career NCAA postseason event, held at Rich Harvest Farms Course.
As U-M's lone representative at the event, O'Neill entered the final round just three shots off an eight-man group tied for second place, but he could not duplicate his second-round scoring efforts (71) to reach the top tier of the leaderboard. Playing as an individual, O'Neill needed to finish as the top player from a non-advancing team to qualify for the NCAA Finals next weekend in Hutchinson, Kan.
Ultimately, Kent State's Taylor Pendrith sandwiched a second-round 78 between a pair of 70s to finish the tournament in a tie for third place, earning him the right to advance as the field's lone individual.
After opening the tournament with a first-round 77 on Thursday (May 15), O'Neill put himself in a tie for 28th place overall. With his first-ever NCAA postseason round in the books, he battled wet and windy conditions through the tournament's second round on Friday (May 16). Even after a two-and-a-half hour delay off the tee box, O'Neill pieced together his best round of the weekend, using a two-under front nine and three total birdies to add a one-under 71 to his two-day total.
A final-round 77 began off the back nine for O'Neill, but a pair of early double-bogeys -- his only two of the weekend -- widened the gap between the sophomore Wolverine and the field's top individuals. After turning the corner, O'Neill marked only pars on his scorecard but was unable to catch the field's leaders and finished with a 225 total.
In the team standings, both Big Ten teams will advance, with Illinois taking the regional crown after reaching an 880 team total to inch ahead of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which led in the standings after both Thursday and Friday's rounds. Purdue pulled itself into third place after a low team score on Friday but finished just six shots ahead of seventh-place Kent State.
The top five teams from the Sugar Grove, Ill., Regional (in seeding order) that will advance to the NCAA Finals are: No. 1 Illinois; No. 2 UAB; No. 3 Purdue; tie-No. 4 Southern California and California.
The NCAA Finals will begin next Friday (May 23) in Hutchinson, Kan., featuring the country's top 30 teams and the top six golfers from non-advancing teams competing as individuals.
Team Standings (Final)
1. Illinois 293-292-295 = 880 (+16) 2. UAB 292-292-298 = 882 3. Purdue 309-288-297 = 894 4. Southern California 302-292-302 = 896 California 305-288-303 = 896 6. Clemson 299-292-307 = 898 7. Kent State 299-309-292 = 900 8. Jacksonville St. 302-306-299 = 907 9. UNLV 308-309-295 = 912 10. Cleveland State 315-298-307 = 920 11. CSU Fullerton 319-309-309 = 937 12. Mississippi State 315-314-310 = 939 13. New Mexico State 317-315-313 = 945 14. Saint Peter's 338-324-328 = 990
The top five teams advance to the NCAA Finals
1. Brian Campbell, Illinois 69-70-72 = 211 (-5) 2. Anthony Paolucci, Southern California 73-73-69 = 215 3. Paul Dunne, UAB 73-73-72 = 218 Taylor Pendrith, Kent State 70-78-70 = 218 5. Brandon Hagy, California 73-72-74 = 219 6. Rico Hoey, Southern California 75-70-75 = 220 Martin Rohwer, UAB 74-74-72 = 220 Pablo Torres, Jacksonville St. 70-75-75 = 220 Carson Young, Clemson 72-73-75 = 220 10. Adam Schenk, Purdue 75-70-76 = 221
T20. Chris O'Neill* 77-71-77 = 225 * Playing as an individual
N O T E S
Chris O'Neill finishes the season having participated in a team-high 12 events, shooting 34 total rounds to an average score of 73.02 per 18 holes. That mark is good enough to crack U-M's top-10 all-time single-season scoring average list, a little more than one stroke off the all-time record of 72.00 set by Matt Thompson in 2010.
In his first NCAA postseason event, Chris O'Neill averaged 75.00 strokes per round, including setting a career-best for NCAA Postseason play with his second-round 71.
Chris O'Neill's 37 total pars recorded over the three-day tournament ranked third out of a 75-man field.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Chris Whitten
On reflecting on Chris O'Neill's season as a whole ... "Now that Chris' season is over, I think it's good to look back and see where he came from year one to year two. There are so many parts to his game that have dramatically improved and he's just a much more complete and mature player. Even to see him take his game from where it was two weeks ago when he was fighting as hard as he could, but it was a struggle and his game didn't feel very good, to this week where he had a lot of confidence and put together some really good play, even better than what the score showed. He's learning how to manage his game better and this week should help him take confidence from that."
On the team benefits of Chris experiencing this round of the NCAA postseason ... "We now have a really good concept of where the bar is. We need to be in as many competitive situations with really good teams as possible so that the guys know what the expectation is and then they can judge themselves against where we need to be. Chris is going to play a really, really good summer schedule that's going to help him do that for the next couple of months as well. This is where we want to be and where we will be, I'm sure and with Chris having such a good year, he earned the opportunity to come and do it and he and our team will be better for it next year."
U-M Sophomore Chris O'Neill
On whether or not he felt he implemented the mechanical changes he wanted to this weekend ... "Yeah, I definitely played better than where I was at the conference tournament. I felt like I hit the ball a little better than I scored but I think it was a few little things that I can clean up and get better at that cost me."
On what message he'll bring back to his teammates after this experience ... "I think it was a good experience; it's very much a business-like atmosphere (there). Everyone has their job that they have to do and they're out there just trying to win the tournament. There's no funny business; everyone takes it very seriously."
Contact: Chad Shepard (firstname.lastname@example.org)