May 18, 2017 10:05:10 AM
Mississippi State freshman Peng Pichaikool shot his best round of the NCAA Division I men's golf regionals Wednesday, while the Ole Miss and Alabama men's teams qualified for the NCAA Men's Golf National Championship.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Pichaikool shot an even-par 72 and jumped 15 spots to tie for 35th. It is the fifth-best finish by a Bulldog individual in an NCAA Regional, and the highest since Chad Ramey tied for 45th in 2012.
"Even though my scores didn't turn out the way I wanted, I learned a lot about my game," Pichaikool said. "I'm looking forward to making some good adjustments over the summer."
Pichaikool finished the back nine at even par, and quickly jumped to 2-under after making the turn with birdies on the first and third holes. After a double bogey on No. 6 and a bogey on the seventh, the Bangkok, Thailand, native answered with a birdie 2 on the 188-yard, par-3 eighth.
In Austin, Texas, junior Kerry Sweeney tied a career low with a final round 4-under-par 67 at The University of Texas Golf Club to propel Ole Miss to its first NCAA Championship appearance since 2001.
Sweeney carded a 1-under par on the front nine and caught fire on his final nine holes, making birdies on five of seven (holes No. 8 through 14). His 67 paced the Rebels and helped secure a top-five finish at the NCAA Austin Regional.
"He has been great in final rounds all year," Malloy said. "We joke about it and we laughed about it last night. There was no doubt in our minds, especially in Kerry's mind, that he was going to play great today. Like he has done all year, he showed up and put us on his back today."
Ole Miss posted its best round of the regional with a 6-under par 278 to finish fourth (2-over par 854). Top seed Oklahoma State won the regional at 13-under par. Texas, Iowa State, and Arizona State also qualified for the NCAA Championship.
Sophomore Braden Thornberry finished fourth after posting a 2-under par 69 for a 4-under par 209.
On the back nine, senior Ben Wolcott birdied twice to complete a 1-over 72. The Dickson, Tennessee, native tied for 15th place.
Sophomore Josh Seiple notched his fourth birdie of the day on the 495-yard, par 4 18th to finish 1-under. Seiple finished 4-over on the tournament and tied for 25th.
Senior Noah West posted with his best round of the tournament at 1-over par 72. The Tupelo native went par-birdie-par-birdie through a tough stretch of holes on the front nine and finished his final eight holes at 1-under.
In Sammamish, Washington, Alabama carded a 2-under par 282 and finished tied for third with a 54-hole score of 10-over par 862 (293-297-282) at the Washington Regional.
The finish pushed the Crimson Tide to the NCAA Championship for the 19th time in program history, and the 10th time under head coach Jay Seawell.
Alabama reached this year's nationals on the strength of its best round of the regional and the lowest team score in the field Wednesday. Lee Hodges (3-under 68), Josh Sedeno (2-under 69), and Davis Riley (1-under 70) shot below par in the third and final round.
Alabama, which claimed the NCAA title in 2013 and 2014, will make its eighth NCAA National Championship appearance in the last 10 years.
Hodges led the No. 36 Crimson Tide by tying for eighth. The junior from Ardmore, Tennessee, carded a 1-under par 212 (71-73-68).
Riley tied for 17th with a three-day total of 3-over par 216 (73-73-70) on the on the par 71, 6,885-yard Aldarra Golf Course.
Junior Steven Setterstrom tied for 22nd with a 5-over par 218 (68-75-75) to give the Tide three golfers among the Regional's top-25 finishers.
Sedeno, a redshirt freshman, rebounded from a 9-over par 80 Tuesday in the second round to shoot a 69. He finished the event tied for 40th at 224 (75-80-69).
Junior Jonathan Hardee rounded out the Crimson Tide golfers, as he tied for 47th with a 227 (71-76-80).
Top-ranked USC claimed the regional title with a 3-under par 849. It finished 12 strokes ahead of No. 12 Kent State (855). Alabama tied No. 24 Florida State for third, while Penn State (863) placed fifth to also earn a spot at nationals.
The national championship will be May 26-31 at Rich Harvest Farms course in Sugar Grove, Illinois.