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ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Led by senior Daniel Miernicki's runner-up finish, the No. 7 University of Oregon men's golf team placed second in the Ann Arbor NCAA Regional Saturday to stake its fourth top-two regional effort under head coach Casey Martin.
By virtue of their top-five regional placing, UO now looks ahead to its 25th NCAA Championships appearance two weeks from now (and fourth in Martin's six-year tenure).The Ducks (second, 288-274-280-842) matched their pre-round placing, thanks to a four-under 280 final round on the par-71, 6,723-yard course.
The regional's top seed, No. 6 USC (289-272-280-841), shot the same score as UO Saturday, and ended one stroke ahead to take the regional title.
"We would have loved to have won, but we advanced and that was the main goal," Martin said. "We aimed high coming in and were right there in the hunt. I'm thrilled to be going back to nationals, and it will be a great way to send off a senior class that has done so much for our program."
Also earning NCAA team bids were No. 18 Kent State (third, 286-276-282-844), No. 19 Virginia (fourth, 287-281-278-846) and No. 43 TCU (278-284-287-849).
Other team placings in the 13-team field follow: Notre Dame (sixth-tie, 291-278-290-859), N.C. State (sixth-tie, 290-282-287-859), No. 31 Oklahoma State (eighth, 290-283-290-863), No. 42 Kennesaw State (ninth, 287-290-291-868), Purdue (10th, 291-293-291-875), No. 29 Baylor (11th, 296-297-289-862), Ohio State (12th, 305-297-293-895) and Navy (13th, 322-306-303-931).
Individually for Oregon, Miernicki (second-tie, 71-65-70-206) led the squad in a tourney's final standings for the fourth time time this season (and all three were top-three showings among the team's last five events).
His one-under final round was his 24th par or better round of the season and school-record 89th career-wise.
Looking back to prior regional efforts, the Santee, Calif., native also posted a runner-up regional effort in 2010 and seventh-place finish as a freshman in '09.
The All-Pac-12 pick logged four birdies Saturday on holes #3, 6, 11 and 14; added 11 par scores, and three bogeys.
Freshman Jonathan Woo (seventh-tie, 72-66-70-208) enjoyed his sixth round of par or better this spring with his one-under score Saturday (and fourth in the last five rounds). The Singapore native shot three birdies (holes #1, 2, 11), 13 par scores and two bogeys.Senior Eugene Wong (19th-tie, 72-69-72-213) staked his 10th, top-20 finish on the season and second among his four regional trips (after he took fifth as a freshman). The Pac-12 Player of the Year shot four birdies Saturday (on holes #8, 13, 14, 15), nine par scores and five bogeys.
Senior Andrew Vijarro (28th-tie, 73-74-68-215) led UO in a round for the sixth time this season, while his three-under score was one off his season best (-4), and two off his career-best (-5). The Bend, Ore., product logged his 18th par or better round of the season (including his fourth in the last six) and 57th career-wise (third-most all-time for the Ducks).
Vijarro shot six birdies on the day (on holes #1, 3, 6, 11-13), and added nine pars and three bogeys.
Making his second regional appearance, redshirt junior Robbie Ziegler (45th-tie, 73-76-73-222) rounded out the Ducks' entries.
"Daniel finished second the last three tourneys, and is playing at an extremely high level," Martin said "Eugene has had a great spring as well, and Andrew stepped up today and really helped us out. Jonathan played beautifully, and realizing that he's pretty good. He's been hitting it really accurately, and just being around these great Duck players has helped him learn how to compete at this level. He has been a huge part of our spring success."
Overall on the individual leaderboard, N.C. State's Albin Choi won by three strokes over Miernicki, Ben Kohles of Virginia (second-tie, 71-65-70-206) and Xavier's Sebastian macLean (second-tie, 68-70-68-206).
Team-wise, the Ducks claimed their eighth top-two finish among 12 stroke play events this year (including six wins).
"We knew we would have to play well here," Martin said. "It's an Alister MacKenzie course, and we have played other courses that he has designed - Meadow Club and Pasatiempo. He's well known for his designs like Augusta - severe greens, narrow fairways, and undulating and difficult greens. We had a few hiccups here and there, but overall kept the ball in play and below the hole, and thus had some success. Michigan did a great hosting the event, and the weather was perfect - 70s/80s today with very little wind."
In prior regional trips under Martin, the Ducks have savored one regional title (2010), and took second in 2009 and 10th in 2011 in the current 13-team regional format. In the previous 27-team regional format in his first two years at the helm, UO took second in ’08 and 19th in ’07.
Looking ahead, the collegiate finale will be hosted at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, Tuesday-Sunday, May 29-June 3. After three rounds of stroke play the first three days, the top eight teams then advance to a quarterfinal match play round on day four, followed by semifinal and final match play rounds the final two days.
Oregon has made three of their 24 NCAA appearances under Martin. In that span, the team's third-place tie in 2010 was its best-ever in program history, and one place better than its showing in 1959. His other youth-laden squads in '09 and '08 placed 22nd and 27th, respectively.
More NCAA Championships information is available at the www.NCAAsports.com website.
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