May 5, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- University of Michigan sophomore men's golfer Chris O'Neill (Glen Allen, Va./Deep Run HS) was selected today (Monday, May 5) as an invited individual participant for the 2014 NCAA Men's Regional in Sugar Grove, Ill. The regional will be Thursday through Saturday, May 15-17, at the Rich Harvest Farms course, hosted by Northern Illinois. The Wolverines as a team were not selected for an at-large bid.
"I'm looking forward to playing in regionals for the first time," said O'Neill, "I wish my teammates were coming with me, but next year we will all be here together. We've got a good, close team here, and everyone supports each other really well."
O'Neill is making his NCAA postseason event debut and is one of five individuals invited to play in the regional, joining Notre Dame's Nial Platt, Richmond's Danny Pizetoski, Towson's Juan Veloza and IUPUI's Robin van de Vin.
"Chris coming back to the team next year as a junior with some postseason experience under his belt is going to help us as a group," said head coach Chris Whitten, "and adding this experience to our overall lineup is great. It's an opportunity that he has earned, for sure."
The Rich Harvest Farms Regional will feature 14 teams to go along with O'Neill and the other four invited individuals. The selected field includes the following teams: Cal-Berkeley, Cal State-Fullerton, Clemson, Cleveland State, Illinois, Jacksonville State, Kent State, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Purdue, Saint Peter's University, UAB, UNLV and USC.
Of the 81 teams that qualified for NCAA Regionals, the top 30 will advance to the finals; the low five teams in each regional with the low individual not on those qualifying teams also making the trip.
The three regionals with 13 competing teams (Raleigh, N.C.; Eugene, Ore.; San Antonio, Texas) each include 10 individuals among the field, while the remaining regionals (Auburn, Ala.; Columbia, Miss.; Sugar Grove, Ill.) feature 14 competing teams and five individuals each.
"He'll be playing in conditions very similar to what we have played in the last couple weeks," said Whitten, "The course normally plays very tough, which can be an advantage for Chris."
In his second season in Ann Arbor, O'Neill led the Wolverines in the following categories: scoring average (72.84), win percentage (73.4 percent), top-five (3) and top-10 finishes (4), and rounds at or under par (17 of 31; 54.8 percent). He garnered three Big Ten Player of the Week honors (Sept. 18; Sept. 25; Feb. 19) and has not yet missed a start in his career in Ann Arbor, extending his consecutive start streak to 23 straight events at season's end.
"He's just a competitor," said Whiten of the sophomore, "He's got a very confident, solid mindset, and he'll be ready to play."
O'Neill is the first individual to represent the Maize and Blue in a NCAA postseason event since Matt Thompson carried the U-M banner in 2012, when the Michigan Golf Course played host to a regional. Overall, O'Neill will become the 11th Wolverine in school history to earn an individual invitation to postseason play.
Including Thompson's individual appearance, U-M has been represented in postseason play in six of the past seven seasons. The team's two NCAA team championships came in 1934 and 1935, while the Wolverines have boasted three individual champions in John Fischer (1932), Chuck Kocsis (1934) and David Barclay (1947), while the most-recent individual regional champion came in 2011 when Lion Kim shared the central regional title.
"I played really solidly at the last round of Big Tens," said O'Neill, "so hopefully that gives me some good momentum going forward. Hopefully it all comes together."
O'Neill will play a practice round at Rich Harvest Farms on Wednesday, May 14, before competition begins on Thursday, with the first of three single rounds for the weekend (May 15-17).
Contact: Chad Shepard (email@example.com)