MORAGA, Calif. -- The 23rd ranked Saint Mary's golf team earned a program-best number four seed and will travel to Pullman, Wash. for NCAA Regionals May 16-18 at Palouse Ridge Golf Club.
The Gaels are coming off consecutive West Coast Conference team championships and are making their second-straight and fourth-ever NCAA regional appearance. Last season, Saint Mary's narrowly missed a trip to the NCAA Championships after finishing seventh overall at the Southwestern Regional in Norman, Okla.
"We are really happy to be playing on the west coast and our guys are confident that we can earn a spot in the NCAA Championships," said SMC head coach Scott Hardy, a seven-time WCC Coach of the Year. "I think the four seed is fair. I thought there was a good chance we would be a four seed when I looked at the rankings and, fortunately, that proved to be an accurate assessment."
Four teams from the current WCC membership qualified for the NCAA regionals and a fifth, Pacific, will be competing in the league next year. Like Saint Mary's, BYU and the Tigers were assigned to play in Pullman. The Cougars were listed as a number six seed, while Big West champion Pacific is seeded 12th.
San Francisco was assigned the 10th seed in Columbus, Ohio and San Diego earned one of the last at-large spots in the tournament as the 12th seed in Tallahassee, Fla.
"To have four teams from the WCC make it to the NCAA tournament is a big accomplishment," said Hardy. "That's 50 percent of the golf teams that compete in the league (Portland does not sponsor golf). Adding Pacific next year is going to add to our depth. It is definitely competitive."
A total of six 54-hole regional tournaments will be conducted. There will be 13 teams and 10 individuals not on those teams competing at each of three regionals, while the other three regionals will have 14 teams and five individuals not on those teams. The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams from each regional will advance to the finals.
The finals will be conducted May 28-June 2, at The Capital City Club, Crabapple Course in Atlanta, Ga. Georgia Tech is the host institution for this year’s championships.
The Gaels are coming off a third-place finish at the PING Cougar Classic, a tournament added to the schedule to keep the team tournament-tested between the conclusion of the league championships and today's announcement.
"I think playing in the Cougar Classic was a bonus," said Hardy. "The reason we scheduled it this year is because of the long layoff between the WCC Championships and the NCAA regionals. We figured we would be a postseason team and I didn't want to have that layoff. It keeps the guys sharp, competitive and focused."
With two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore who qualified for last year's NCAA championships as an individual among the team's most experienced players, Hardy is confident his team will enter the regionals expecting success.
"I think our team's experience provides clear expectations of what playing in the NCAA championships is all about," said Hardy. "They know what the tournament is going to be like. They know the pressure. That experience should make our guys more comfortable in big time tournament situations."
Pac-12 champion Cal is the top seed at the Pullman regional, followed by TCU and USC. After Saint Mary's, the field consists of Virginia Tech, BYU, North Texas, Baylor, San Diego State, Ball State, Memphis, Pacific, Princeton and Saint Francis (Pa.).
Six teams in the regional won its conference championship: Cal (Pac-12), Saint Mary's, North Texas (Sun Belt), Pacific (Big West), Princeton (Ivy League) and Saint Francis (Northeast). Eight teams were selected as at-large participants.
Five student-athletes were selected to participate as individuals: Ryan Williams and Jordan Weir of Sacramento State, Tyler Raber of UC Davis, Mason Casper of Utah Valley and Taeksoo Kim of Boise State.