Bulls Ready for Baton Rouge Regional Run
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
BATON ROUGE, La., MAY 14, 2017 – After pulling off a three-peat at the conference tournament, the next order of business for USF men's golf is trying to book a third straight trip to the final rounds of the NCAA Championship.
USF is making its fifth consecutive NCAA postseason appearance at the three-day Baton Rouge Regional, which begins with 18 holes Monday at host LSU's University Club. The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams from each of the six 54-hole regional tournaments will advance to the championship rounds.
Rigel Fernandes, Claudio Correa and Cristian DiMarco are all back from the Bulls' 2016 lineup that advanced through the Albuquerque, N.M., Regional. Fernandes and Correa also were a part of the 2015 squad that won the New Haven Regional and made the NCAA Championship match play quarterfinals.
Final rounds of the NCAA Championship will be played May 26-31 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., with Northern Illinois University serving as the host institution. USF heads to the NCAA postseason with momentum after winning its third straight American tournament title in wire-to-wire fashion on April 25.
Teams by seeding: 1. LSU, 2. Oregon, 3. Virginia, 4. Duke, 5. Northwestern, 6. Arkansas, 7. Jacksonville, 8. Kentucky, 9. USF, 10. Iowa, 11. Georgia State, 12. Jacksonville State, 13. Loyola (Md.), 14. Alabama State.
Individuals (from non-qualifying schools): 1. Peng Pichaikool, Mississippi St.; 2. Zan Luka Stirn, Arkansas St.; 3. R.J. Keur, UAB; 4. Zander Lozano, UTSA; 5. Albert Badosa-Soler, Nicholls.
DiMarco was a unanimous all-conference selection after placing second at the league tournament. The junior from Longwood, Fla., competed in a playoff for The American's individual title and leads the Bulls with a 72.1 scoring average through 31 rounds this season.
Fernandes earned all-conference honors for the third straight season after tying for ninth at the league championship. The senior from Bradenton, Fla., is second on the team with a 72.5 scoring average and five top-25 finishes, including one in each of the past four tournaments. Fernandes was recently featured in an ESPN story that can be accessed HERE.
Correa ranks fourth on the team with a 72.9 scoring average through 28 rounds. The junior from Santiago, Chile tied for 20th at the conference tournament and collected one of his two top-10 finishes by tying for fourth at the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship on April 4. Correa's performance helped the Bulls capture their first of two tournament titles this season.
Another all-conference pick, Jones heads to the NCAA postseason with plenty of confidence after tying for third at the conference championship. The junior from Tampa leads the Bulls with four top-10 finishes and brings a 72.6 scoring average into his first regional run with the program.
Singh also will be making his regional debut for the Bulls after tying for 11th at the conference championship, his third straight top-25 finish. The junior from Delhi, India has registered a 73.0 scoring average in 28 rounds of his first season with the Bulls.
Head coach Steve Bradley on his lineup heading into the second part of the postseason:
“Since April 1, we've played some pretty good golf. It's as much the scores as it is the mental confidence they have in themselves individually and their teammates. That's pretty powerful stuff when you get a chance to go out there. You can sense they all believe in each other and that makes it a lot easier… There's been a sense of confidence and also a sense of calm. That typically leads to a better performance.”
Bradley on the Baton Rouge Regional:
“There are obviously a lot of really good teams, according to rank. I think the Bermuda grass is very similar to what we play on in Florida. That familiarity I think kind of levels the playing field to an extent for us… We're going to have to play great golf regardless of what region we got shipped to, but I really couldn't have asked for a better region for our guys – proximity-wise, type of grass, heat. I think all those are things we're accustomed to and help us.”
Bradley on USF's approach heading into a tough regional:
“I think we're going to approach it similar to how we approach any golf tournament. The goal is to prepare and try to win the golf tournament. The top five advance, but I think if you go in with the mindset of just trying to advance, then maybe you won't have the same sharpness or attention to detail. We want to go and try to win this golf tournament. Obviously, LSU has a huge advantage on its home golf course. Having won the national championship two years ago, they're a good team. But you go into every golf tournament wanting to win it and that's going to be our goal.”
USF is paired with Kentucky and Jacksonville for Monday's first round. Singh will lead off the lineup from the first hole starting at 9:55 a.m. (EST).
Teams and individuals will be re-paired according to score after the first and second rounds.
About USF Men's Golf
USF men's golf returns three players from the 2015-16 team that made program history with a return trip to the NCAA Championship. The Bulls have won the past three American Athletic Conference Championships in head coach Steve Bradley's first three seasons with the program. Follow @USFMGolf on Twitter for the latest information concerning the program.