By Rob Moseley
A week after the Oregon men’s golf team busted the form chart to qualify for the NCAA Championships, the Ducks will try to do the same this week when the national tournament kicks off at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
Oregon enters NCAAs as the No. 23 seed, and opens play Friday at 5:50 a.m. PT on the par-70, 6,641-yard course. The Ducks were the seventh seed in their NCAA Regional last week in Eugene, but finished second in the tournament to Stanford.
“We’re going to go and compete, try to win,” UO coach Casey Martin said. “That’s what we’re going to do. Obviously we won’t be the favorite, but stranger things have happened.”
The Ducks overachieved the last time they made the national championships, in 2012. Oregon was the No. 7 seed that year, but advanced to the national semifinals and lost by the slimmest of margins.
At the NCAA Tournament, participating teams play three rounds of stroke play Friday through Sunday, with the top eight moving on to the quarterfinals in a match-play format Tuesday. The semifinals also will be contested Tuesday, and the final will be played Wednesday.
“We’re going to go battle and try to get in that elite eight, and see what happens,” Martin said, noting that this year’s NCAA men’s basketball champion, Connecticut, was a No. 7 seed into the tournament.
In between, on Monday, the top 40 individuals from the first three rounds will play a fourth round of stroke play to determine the NCAA individual champion.
Oregon has just one player back who competed at the 2012 NCAA Championships, junior Jonathan Woo. He contributed one score to the Ducks’ team score in stroke play – the top four from each five-man team are counted each day – and lost his match-play battle in the semifinals against Texas, 2 and 1.
Oregon’s team this week also includes sophomores Brandon McIver, Zach Foushee and Sulman Raza, and freshman Thomas Lim. They enter the NCAA Championships hoping to make some noise this week, but also knowing how much they’ll grow from the opportunity.
“That’s what golf is – at every level it’s a learning experience,” Martin said.
On Thursday, Lim was one of 27 players named by the Golf Coaches Association of America to the Division I PING All-Region Team in the West. Lim shot a final-round 66 at Regionals to finish second individually behind Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers.
“He’s a phenomenal little player,” Martin said. “Hopefully that’s a sign of what’s in store in the future.”