RALEIGH, N.C. – No. 8 Washington made it 11 times in the last 13 years and 14 times overall, advancing to the NCAA Championships after a second-place finish at the NCAA Raleigh Regional. The Dawgs were led by Jonathan Sanders who continued his brilliant play to win the individual title by three strokes.
“This is always a huge day for our program,” said head coach Matt Thurmond. “It's literally years of work to get into a position where we are good enough to play well in the NCAA Regionals so we can advance to the Championships to compete for the big one. It's so rewarding to see the guys play so well.”
“It's hard to get the NCAA's every year and each year some very good teams are left home. It's the ultimate pressure event as the whole season comes down to three rounds, so it's immensely satisfying when we perform well.”
Sanders made seven birdies on Saturday to finish with a round of 3-under 68, his third-straight in the 60’s. The sophomore finished the week at 10-under 203 to win his second championship of the spring. He also won the Bandon Dunes Championship back in March. Sanders also become the third-straight Husky and fourth overall to earn the individual medal at regionals.
Sanders entered the final round in a tie for second, one shot off the lead, but took control early on with a flurry of birdies. He pulled away over the final couple of holes, birdying 15, 16 and 17 to take a four stroke lead over Ollie Schienderjans of Georgia Tech. Even after a double-bogey on 18, Sanders had the comfortable three-shot win.
“Jonathan was amazing this week,” said Thurmond. “Nearly flawless. The course really set up for long hitters and we are not a long-hitting team. Jonathan's ball control, strategy, poise, and putting were at an elite level. He was incredible this week.”
Schniederjans led Georgia Tech to the team title at 27-under for the week. The Dawgs were second at 10-under, after a round of 2-over 286 on Saturday. The Lonnie Poole Golf Course played much tougher for the final round as the winds picked up and no team was able to shoot under par.
No. 20 Texas A&M has the best final round at even par to finish third at 3-under. No. 32 Kentucky and No. 17 Florida State rounded out the top five at 4-over and 8-over respectively to also earn the trip to the NCAA Finals reserved for the top five at the regional.
Also with top-15 individual finishes for the Dawgs were Cheng-Tsung Pan and Trevor Simsby. Pan shot a round of even-par 71 on Saturday to finish a steady tournament of even-par 213 to tie for 13th. Simsby stumbled down the stretch to a 6-over 77 and a tie for 15th. The Husky senior played the final four holes at 5-over to ruin what looked like a top-10 finish.
Corey Pereira finished tied for 20th at 2-over 215 after a round of 2-over 73. The Husky freshman made three birdies and five bogeys in his first NCAA Regional Championship.
Chris Babcock rounded out the Husky squad in a tie for 32nd. He finished with a final round of 3-over 74 with three birdies and just one bogey, but three double-bogey sixes on par fours.
Next up for Washington will be a spot in the NCAA Championships at Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kansas. The tournament begins Friday, May 23, with the stroke play portion that lasts three days. The fourth day will decide the individual champion at the top-40 players will continue with stroke play. Tuesday, May 27, the match play portion begins for the top eight teams from stroke play. That day will be the quarterfinals and semifinals with the match-play final being contested on Wednesday, May 28. The individual finals and match play portions of the NCAA Championships can be seen live on the Golf Channel this year.