Men's Golf Returns To Stanford For NCAAs Thursday

May 14, 2012

NCAA Regional NotesGet Acrobat Reader

The 14th-ranked San Diego State men's golf team returns to the par-70, 6,742-yard Stanford Golf Course for the second time this spring, as the Aztecs take part in the 2012 NCAA regional, May 17-19, in Stanford, Calif. The Aztecs, who are making their 14th consecutive and 17th regional appearance overall, will be among the field vying for a spot in the NCAA national championships slated for May 29-June 3 in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

SDSU earned the No. 3 seed out of the 13 teams in the Stanford regional, snagging one of the 28 automatic bids to the NCAA tournament as a result of winning its second consecutive Mountain West crown on May 6. Overall, 81 NCAA Division I schools garnered invitations to play in one of the six regional events that will be played concurrently in Greensboro, N.C. (UNCG host), Athens, Ga. (Georgia), Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan), Norman, Okla. (Oklahoma) and Bowling Green, Ky. (Western Kentucky).

Joining the Aztecs in the Bay Area this week will be 12 other teams, including six foes ranked in the top 40, and 10 individual competitors (75 golfers overall). The top five squads and the low individual not on an advancing team will move on to nationals from each of the six regionals.

Teams will play 18 holes (54 total) of stroke play each of the three days with a practice round on Wednesday, May 16. Thursday's first round is set to get underway at 8 a.m. PT with SDSU paired with California and the host Cardinal at the first hole. Friday's second round begins as early as 8 a.m., while Saturday's final 18 tees off at 7:30 a.m.

Live hole-by-hole stats will be available on golfstat.com, as well as goaztecs.com for all three rounds.

Aztec Line-Up For This Week
Ninth-year San Diego State head coach Ryan Donovan will stick to the same line-up that he's used in each of the team's last four five-man events with four seniors and one junior.

Seniors Colin Featherstone (Fallbrook, Calif.), Alex Kang (Oak Park, Calif.) and J.J. Spaun (San Dimas, Calif.) will compete in the NCAA regional for the second year in a row, while junior Tom Berry (New Haw, England) and senior Matt Hoffenberg (Simi Valley, Calif.) return for the first time since 2010 and 2008, respectively.

Spaun is the most experienced of the group with three previous NCAA appearances, followed by Featherstone (2), Kang (2), Berry (1) and Hoffenberg (1).

The 2012 NCAA Stanford Regional Field
A total of 13 teams and 10 individuals representing seven different schools comprise the 2012 NCAA Stanford Regional field. San Diego State is the lone Mountain West Conference squad, while the Pac-12 has three teams and the SEC and Conference USA both have two. The other five schools come from five different conferences comprising three states.

The Aztecs are one of five Mountain West members to earn a regional berth in 2012 with the others being UNLV (No. 2 seed - Greensboro, N.C.), New Mexico (No. 3 - Athens, Ga.), TCU (No. 8 - Ann Arbor, Mich) and Colorado State (No. 11 - Bowling Green, Ky.).

The Aztecs are one of seven teams ranked in the top 40 nationally by golfstat.com. that will be participating at the Stanford Golf Course. Top-seed California is rated second followed by No. 8 Stanford, No. 14 SDSU, No. 22 UCF, No. 25 LSU, No. 37 UAB and No. 38 Wichita State. Tennessee and Oregon State are also ranked among the top 50.

San Diego State has seen eight of the other 12 teams at tournaments earlier this season and owns a combined head-to-head record of 15-6-1 against them. All six of the losses are to the top two seeds in Cal and Stanford.

A Look At The Course
The host site of the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Stanford Regional is the par-70, 6,742-yard Stanford Golf Course, located in Stanford, Calif.

Construction on the Stanford Golf Course, which is in the foothills above campus, began in May of 1929 and opened in January of 1930. It was originally designed by architects George C. Thomas Jr., and Billy Bell and cost $188,000 to build. It is the home course of both of the Cardinal men's and women's golf programs and has played host to numerous intercollegiate and non-collegiate events. It was selected as the third-best college course by the GolfChannel in 2009.

This is the third time the Stanford Golf Course has been the site of an NCAA men's golf regional, also doing so in 1997 and in 2005 when SDSU finished seventh to qualify for nationals.

As mentioned previously, the Aztecs competed on the same course earlier this spring from March 30 to April 1 at the U.S. Intercollegiate and have also done so for the same event seven other times in the last decade (2010, 2008, 2003-06).

Aztecs At The NCAA Regionals
Since the NCAA regional tournaments began in 1989, SDSU has received a bid 17 times, including a current streak of 14 straight from 1999 to 2012.

The Aztecs have placed in the top 10 on six occasions, with their best finish coming last season when they won the team title. The lowest score in regional competition for SDSU also occurred last year when it went 19-under 833 en route to a seven-stroke victory.

Current senior Alex Kang owns the best-ever individual finish by an Aztec at an NCAA regional with his fourth-place performance at OMNI Tucson National in 2011. His 5-under 208 also beat the previous program low at the event of 210, which was held by Gilberto Rodriguez in 2005 at the Stanford Golf Course. The best single round by an SDSU golfer at a regional was logged by Magnus Carlsson, who shot a 6-under 66 in 1999.

The Aztecs have advanced to the national championships 26 times in school history, including four times (1999, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011) since the regional format made its debut. Overall, this is the 14th time SDSU has played an NCAA regional in the Pacific time zone, including 10 in a row.

Flashback: SDSU At 2011 NCAA Arizona Regional
The San Diego State men's golf team continued its remarkable 2010-11 season by claiming the program's first NCAA regional championship in Tucson, Ariz.

SDSU won its seventh tournament of the campaign by cruising to a seven-stroke win in the 14-team field with a three-day, 54-hole score of 19-under 833. The eighth-ranked and second-seeded Aztecs showed their dominance against the field by posting the lowest team scores in the first two rounds and tying for low score honors in round three.

San Diego State won the title with remarkable depth as all five Aztec players finished under par and each placed in a tie for 16th or better individually.

Junior Alex Kang led the way, shooting rounds of 68, 70 and 70 en route to a 5-under par 208. His fourth-place finish was the highest ever in a regional for an Aztec player.

SDSU freshman Todd Baek finished the event at 4-under 209, vaulting from 16th into a tie for seventh in the final 18 holes as a result of his team-low 3-under 68. Senior Johan Carlsson posted his fourth consecutive career top-20 finish at the NCAA regionals with his 3-under 210 to tie for 11th place. Juniors J.J. Spaun and Colin Featherstone, meanwhile, tied for 16th place respectively at 1-under 212.

Prior to this 2011, the Aztecs had three top-10 finishes at NCAA Regionals with the best previous performance coming in 1999, when they came in fifth.

Spaun, Donovan Snag Top Conference Honors
The San Diego State men's golf team picked up two of the Mountain West's top awards for 2012, as senior J.J. Spaun was named player of the year and Ryan Donovan was tabbed coach of the year. Spaun, who was also selected to the all-conference team with classmate Alex Kang, becomes the fourth Aztec so honored, while this is the second year in a row Donovan has claimed his award.

Spaun is the fourth SDSU player to be named the Mountain West Golfer of the Year, but the first since 2008. Previous winners include Aaron Goldberg (2008), John Lieber (2002) and Lars Johansson (2001). Spaun also joins Goldberg (2006-08) and Mark Warman (2002-04) as the only Aztecs to be chosen to the all-MW squad three times.

In his ninth year at the helm of his alma mater, Donovan has led San Diego State to five tournament titles this season, including four in a row, and its second consecutive conference championship. He is the first Aztec men's golf coach so honored by the Mountain West.

Kang landed on the all-conference squad for the second season in a row and is just the sixth Aztec to earn multiple all-Mountain West accolades. He owns a current stroke average of 71.83 and has a team-high five top-five finishes with each of those coming this spring.

In The National Rankings
Despite winning its fifth tournament title of the season, San Diego State remained in 14th nationally in the latest golfstat.com national rankings, which were released Wednesday. The team is also rated 14th by Golfweek/Sagarin and remained 14th in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division I College Coaches' Poll, which was posted back on April 25.

Individually, J.J. Spaun is 23rd in the Golfstat Cup standings and 28th according to Golfweek. The next highest Aztec is fellow senior Alex Kang, who is at No. 71 and No. 72.

San Diego State's five tournament titles this year tie for fourth nationally behind only No. 1 Texas (7), No. 7 Oregon (7) and No. 11 Arkansas (6).

Rewind: Aztecs Win Back-To Back League Titles
The San Diego State men's golf team earned its second consecutive Mountain West championship with a five-stroke victory over second place TCU at the par-71, 7,144-yard OMNI Tucson National Golf Resort in Tucson, Ariz. The 14th-ranked Aztecs had a three-day total of 8-under 844, which allowed them to become the first school to earn back-to-back MW titles since 2005-06.

SDSU led at the end of all three rounds in a tournament that featured four teams ranked in the top 45 nationally. The squad has now finished in the top two at the Mountain West championships four consecutive seasons and its 54-hole score of 844 matches as its best ever at this event. San Diego State has finished first in each of its last four trips to OMNI Tucson National, winning the 2012 National Invitational Tournament in mid-March and also earning titles at the NCAA West Regional and Mountain West championship in 2011.

All five Aztec golfers finished in the top 17 on the individual leaderboard, including three in the top 10. Senior Alex Kang and junior Tom Berry were the co-leaders through 36 holes, but dropped back to fourth and fifth place respectively after both carding their highest rounds of the event.

SDSU's third player in the top 10 was senior J.J. Spaun, who tied for ninth with a 212. Both Matt Hoffenberg and Colin Featherstone moved up the individual leaderboard each of the final two days, ending up 12th and 17th, respectively.

Up Next
The top five teams and the low individual not on one of those teams will advance out of the NCAA Stanford Regional to the national championships, scheduled for May 29-June 3 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Thirty total teams and six individuals will play 54 holes of stroke play over a three-day period to determine the individual national champion. The final three days will feature match play between the top eight squads for the team national title.

Aztec 11-12 Highlights
The San Diego State men's golf team is enjoying yet another record-setting season. The Aztecs have maintained a top 20 ranking throughout the campaign, which has been highlighted by five tournament titles, including four in a row, in 2012. The team has ended up in the top seven in all 12 outings, including eight in the top three, and boasts a combined head-to-head record of 138-22-2.

Individually, an Aztec has claimed medalist honors four times with each coming in consecutive events during the spring. Senior Matt Hoffenberg, who did not play with the squad a year ago, got the winning started at the North Ranch Intercollegiate in late February. Classmate J.J. Spaun then followed that up with three consecutive titles at The Farms Invitational, the National Invitational Tournament and the Barona Collegiate Cup.

For his efforts, Spaun was named the National Amateur of the Month by the Southern Golf Association, Mountain West Golfer of the Month and Golf World College Player of the Week. His five career individual titles tie him for first in school history along with SDSU Hall of Famer Lennie Clements.

Head Coach Ryan Donovan
Ryan Donovan is in his ninth season at the helm of the SDSU golf program after serving as an assistant in 2003. Since taking over, he has directed his alma mater to 24 tournament titles and four NCAA national championship appearances.

He is a two-time Mountain West Coach of the Year and was named a finalist for national coach of the year in 2011.