COLLEGE GROVE, Tenn. – The No. 39 Kennesaw State men’s golf team rode the momentum of a quick start and withstood windy conditions for most of its round to shoot a 2-over par 290 on Wednesday and tie for second place at the NCAA College Grove Regional and earn its third trip to the NCAA Championships.
The Owls totaled a 1-over par 54-hole total of 865 to finish two shots behind No. 47 UCF (863, -1) in the 13-team field. KSU tied No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 14 Clemson for second, while No. 35 Lipscomb (869, +5) finished fifth to earn the final berth to the NCAA Championships scheduled for May 26-31 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
The tie for second matches Kennesaw State’s best result at a regional, tying the Owls’ finish at the 2014 Auburn Regional. KSU previously advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2011 and 2014 when it finished 26th on both occasions.
Senior Christopher Guglielmo turned in a 6-under par 210 total to place two shots behind Lipscomb’s Dawson Armstrong, who finished first with an 8-under par 208 score. Guglielmo’s second-place showing marks the best finish by a KSU player since Jimmy Beck tied for fourth at the 2015 Chapel Hill Regional.
“Right now I am just trying to get it to sink in. It was such a tough day. These guys played so well, so courageous, so disciplined, so patient, so focused. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” head coach Bryant Odom said. “Chris and Teremoana (Beaucousin), our two seniors, stepped up and led us today. It was a special day for our program and these young men.”
Guglielmo opened his final round with birdies on three of his first five holes and finished his front nine at 4-under par before playing his final nine holes at even par. The Owls’ senior totaled six birdies, two bogeys and 10 pars on the day.
“After last year it hurt a lot because we were right there, just like we were at the start of today,” Guglielmo said. “It (advancing to the NCAA Championships) feels pretty awesome, it doesn’t get any bigger than that in college golf and we’ll see how it goes from there.
“I’ve been making putts and I’ve been hitting in good spots where I haven’t been getting in trouble,” Guglielmo said. “Today I got off to a good start and that was pretty key for how much the wind picked up. The back nine was playing really hard so I just kept grinding and seeing if I could put myself in good position and give myself good shots at birdie.”
Sophomore Jake Fendt shot a closing-round 3-over par 75 to finish at even-par 216 and tie for ninth, while sophomore Pablo Rodriguez-Tabernero Torres (220, +4) tied for 17th, Beaucousin (224, +8), tied for 39th, and freshman Connor Coffee (228, +12) tied for 55th.
“We knew it was going to be windier today and teeing off early we had a few holes where we had a reprieve, but it showed up on the toughest holes on the course, six through 11, and it hasn’t let up since,” Odom said. “By the time we got there, we were off to a good start, the guys were just bearing down and pressed on through it and we finished well. What a feeling.
“Advancing to the nationals just shows we are one of the best programs in the country. We played well in the fall and proved we are a Top 25 program,” Odom added. “We had some ups and downs in the spring, but finished it off with a win at the ASUN Championships and played well here to show we can compete with anyone in the nation.”
The NCAA Championships will not be an entirely new experience for the Owls as Guglielmo and Beaucousin both were part the Kennesaw State team that competed at the nationals in 2014 in Hutchinson, Kan., as freshmen.
“It’s at a pretty good venue, Rich Harvest Farms, and I’ve heard really good things about it. It’s going to have the top 30 teams in the country and we’re going to have to play even better than we did here to give a run at it,” Guglielmo said. “We’re all really excited and we’re going to have about a week and a half to prepare so we’ll do our best and see how we do.”
KENNESAW STATE SCORES
287-288-290 – 865 (+1)
T2. Christopher Guglielmo (72-70-68 – 210, -6)
T9. Jake Fendt (68-73-75- 216, E)
T17. Pablo Rodriguez-Tabernero Torres (75-71-74 – 220, +4)
T39. Teremoana Beaucousin (77-74-73 – 224, +8)
T55. Connor Coffee (72-81-75 – 228, +12)