Men's Golf Opens NCAA Championships Tuesday Morning
MILTON, Ga. -- Ball State will tee it up Tuesday morning at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course as one of 30 teams still competing for the top spot in Division I men’s golf.
The Cardinals are making their first appearance at the NCAA Championships since 1986 after earning a trip to Atlanta through a playoff at the regional in Pullman, Wash.
Ball State completed its practice round Monday at Crabapple, which will play to a par-70, 7,319-yard layout. Two holes that are typically par-5s -- the ninth hole and the 16th -- have been converted into long par-4s for the championships.
The Cardinals will go off the first tee Tuesday in the morning wave of starting times, which feature half the teams. Joe Gasser will be the first Ball State player off the tee at 8:40 a.m., followed in 10-minute intervals by Tony Lazzara, McCormick Clouser, Alex Stinson and Tyler Merkel.
Ball State, seeded 30th, will play in groups with Texas Tech and Coastal Carolina for the first two rounds. The Cardinals will play in the afternoon wave for Wednesday’s second round.
The teams will then be re-grouped for Thursday’s final round of stroke play, after which there will be a cut down the top eight teams for match play to decide the national champion.
No. 1-ranked California, which won its NCAA-record 11th tournament of the season at the Pullman Regional, is the top seed in the field, followed by Alabama, UCLA, defending national champion Texas and Washington.
Live scoring for the tournament is available at ncaa.com. Fans can also keep up to date by following the Cardinals on Twitter @ballstategolf.
The Field (seed in parentheses):
(1) California, (2) Alabama, (3) UCLA, (4) Texas, (5) Washington, (6) New Mexico, (7) Georgia Tech, (8) Arkansas, (9) TCU, (10) Florida, (11) Southern California, (12) Georgia, (13) Florida State, (14) North Florida, (15) Illinois, (16) Oklahoma State, (17) LSU, (18) Auburn, (19) South Carolina, (20) Texas A&M, (21) Saint Mary’s, (22) Kent State, (23) Oklahoma, (24) UNLV, (25) UCF, (26) Tennessee, (27) Arizona State, (28) Texas Tech, (29) Coastal Carolina, (30) Ball State
Tuesday, May 28: First Round of stroke play (tee times start at 7 a.m.)
Wednesday, May 29: Second Round of stroke play (tee times start at 7 a.m.)
Thursday, May 30: Final Round of stroke play (tee times start at 7 a.m.)
Friday, May 31: First round of match play (first match begins at 10 a.m.)
Saturday, June 1: Semifinals (first match begins at 10 a.m.)
Sunday, June 2: Championship match (10 a.m.)
How the Cardinals got to this point …
Ball State Earns Spot in NCAA Championships
• Ball State grabbed the fifth and final NCAA Championships qualifying spot out of the Pullman Regional by virtue of a one-hole playoff victory over San Diego State. The teams finished regulation tied for fifth place in the 14-team regional after 54 holes.
• The Cardinals are now the No. 30 seed in the NCAA Championships, which will be played May 28-June 2 at the Capital City Club Crabapple Course in Milton, Ga., just outside Atlanta.
• A total of 30 teams will compete in the opening 54 holes of the NCAA Championship, May 28-30. The field will then be cut down to the top eight teams, which will be bracketed for a three-day match play tournament to determine the national champion.
Cardinals Making First NCAA Championships Appearance Since 1986
• Ball State has reached the NCAA Championships as a team for the 13th time in program history (11 at the University Division/Division I level) and the first time in 27 years.
• The Cardinals’ most recent appearance came at the 1986 Championships in Winston-Salem, N.C.
• Ball State reached this year’s championship rounds by advancing out of the NCAA Regionals, which it competed in for the first time since 1991.
A Quick Look at the Cardinals
• Ball State enters the championships ranked No. 55 nationally by Golfstat and No. 56 by Golfweek. The Cardinals reached a high ranking of No. 27 at the end of the fall season.
• In 10 team events this year, Ball State has two tournament wins -- the Firestone Invitational and the Golf Pride Pinehurst Intercollegiate -- and a pair of runner-up finishes -- the Pinetree Intercollegiate and the Mid-American Match Play.
A Look Back at Pullman
• Ball State improved its position every day at the Pullman Regional, climbing from 10th place after round one to a tie for seventh after round two and a tie for fifth at the end of regulation.
• The Cardinals then topped San Diego State by one stroke in a one-hole playoff featuring all five golfers from each team competing with the low four scores counting.
• Alex Stinson was the last player to hole out and tapped in for the only birdie among either team to push Ball State through with a one-shot victory.
• Stinson tied for 16th place individually at 4-under par 212, while Tyler Merkel tied for 30th at 1-under 215 and McCormick Clouser tied for 37th at even-par 216.
• Joe Gasser tied for 41st at 1-over 217 and Tony Lazzara tied for 55th at 5-over 221 to round out the Ball State lineup.
Cardinals Play Better Than Seed
• Ball State, which entered the Pullman Regional as a No. 10 seed, was the highest seeded team to emerge from the regional round.
• Arizona State and Coastal Carolina, both seeded ninth in their regionals, also advanced.
• Beyond those three teams, no team seeded higher than seventh made it to the NCAA Championships.
• Ball State is one of two teams to reach this year’s NCAA Championships through a playoff.
• The Cardinals tied for fifth place at the Pullman Regional but defeated San Diego State on the first playoff hole.
• Oklahoma claimed the fifth spot in the Tallahassee Regional by virtue of a playoff victory over South Florida. The Sooners also needed only the first playoff hole.
Red Numbers in Regional
• Ball State turned in some of its top rounds of the year and re-wrote the program’s NCAA Tournament record book at the Pullman Regional at Palouse Ridge Golf Club.
• Alex Stinson recorded the lowest 54-hole total ever by a Ball State golfer in NCAA Tournament play at 212.
• McCormick Clouser’s opening round of 4-under par 68 is the lowest 18-hole score by any Cardinal in NCAA Tournament play, while Stinson’s pair of 69s are tied for second on that list and Tyler Merkel’s pair of 70s are tied for fifth.
• The Cardinals’ team score of 281 in the first round in Pullman is the lowest NCAA round in school history, and the regional total of 856 is the best for any Ball State team over 54 holes of an NCAA event.
Stinson Comes Up Clutch
• Ball State senior Alex Stinson turned in the best tournament of his career at the Pullman Regional and jumped 118 spots to No. 263 in the Golfstat national rankings in the process.
• Stinson matched his career-low 18-hole score of 69 in each of the final two rounds at the regional on the way to a career-best 54-hole score of 4-under par 212.
• Not only was Stinson Ball State’s best finisher at the tournament in a tie for 16th, but he also recorded the clinching birdie in the one-hole playoff with San Diego State to send the Cardinals on to the NCAA Championships.
Merkel’s Career Numbers
• Junior Tyler Merkel, who won the Pinehurst Intercollegiate and has placed in the top-5 in six tournaments this year, is already making his mark on the Ball State record book.
• He owns three career tournament titles to rank in a tie for ninth in program history.
• His 72.83 stroke average this season ranks fourth in program history, while his 73.47 average over his first three years is on pace for the Ball State career record.