Virginia Tech’s 2014 men’s golf team is headed to the National Championship tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. This past weekend in Auburn, Alabama, the Hokies finished in fourth place, good enough to secure their trip to the last college golf tournament of the year and a chance at the NCAA National Title.
The 30-team field this weekend will be highlighted by defending National Champion Alabama, who beat Virginia Tech by 29 strokes to win one of six regionals this past weekend.
Here’s a look at the teams that qualified for the national championship tournament (teams are listed in the order of their finish in their respective regional):
Sugar Grove Regional:
San Antonio Regional:
Alabama has been dominant over the last several years, but the other regional champions (Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Stanford and Georgia) are all coming into this weekend playing great golf. And although the likely national champion will come from the above 6 teams, the other 24 teams, like Virginia Tech, all have a shot at winning the trophy.
As to the breakdown of conferences, the SEC once again shows its strength by having 10 teams qualify, which comes to one-third of the field. They are followed by the PAC 12 (6 teams), the Big XII (4 teams), the ACC (3 teams), the AAC (2 teams), the Big 10 (2 teams) along with the Atlantic Sun, the Sun Belt and Conference USA each getting one team in the field.
Six individual golfers from each region also made the National Championship tournament to compete for the NCAA 2014 individual title. The ACC’s Denny McCarthy (Virginia) and Cyrus Stewart (Wake Forest) are among those golfers who will play for the individual title.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP FORMAT FOR 2014
The national title in golf, both for the team and individual titles, used to simply be stroke play, and the lowest score for each category was declared the winner. In 2009, the NCAA went to a match play format for the teams for exciting head-to-head competiton.
This year, the format has changed slightly again to make it even more exciting for both the team and individuals playing. Each golfer this weekend will compete in an individual stroke-play format over 54 holes (Friday, May 23, Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25). Team scores will be kept over those three days as well.
The low 40 individual scores and the low eight team scores will then qualify for what will soon be known as the “live television” rounds (more on that later). On Monday, May 26, the top 40 individuals and ties will compete in the fourth and final stroke-play round to determine the individual national champion. The scores will carry over from the first three rounds for the top 40 individuals. Just like the PGA pros, this year’s college golfers will be playing four rounds to determine the individual national champion.
The list of former NCAA individual champions in golf includes Jack Nicklaus (1961), Hale Irwin (1967), Ben Crenshaw (1971, 1972, 1973), Curtis Strange (1974), Scott Simpson (1976, 1977), Phil Mickelson (1989, 1991, 1992) and Tiger Woods (1996). All of those young golfers eventually went on to win major professional golf titles.
The day after the individual champion is crowned, on Tuesday, May 27, the top eight teams from the first three rounds will then tee it up in match play in the morning (quarterfinals 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 5) followed in the afternoon by the semi-final matches of the winning teams.
On Wednesday, May 28, the final two teams remaining will meet to determine the team National Champion. You can watch it all live on the Golf Channel next week, which has dedicated its full suite of production resources to the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships, featuring nine hours of live tournament coverage next week. The network is basically treating this event just like it would a major golf tournamant. For example, its news broadcast – Golf Central – will originate on-location with 11 hours of pre-and post-event news coverage, and news updates on Morning Drive will also take place.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Virginia Tech’s golf team, Head Coach Jay Hardwick and Assistant Coach Brian Sharp will head to Kansas on Wednesday. The Hokies will get in their practice rounds at Prairie Dunes Golf Club, with the first round of play beginning this Friday.
Just like the entire season, the Hokies were lead by junior Scott Vincent, who finished tied for third with a three day score of -3 in the Auburn Regional. Junior Trevor Cone and Bryce Chalkley also claimed top 20 finishes.
For your recap on how the Hokie golf team did in the ACC tournament and NCAA Auburn Regional to make the national championship, click here.
For up-to-the-minute updates on Virginia Tech men’s golf, follow the Hokies on Twitter @VT_Mgolf