TCU Opens NCAA Regional Play Thursday in Michigan
May 16, 2012
FORT WORTH—The TCU men’s golf team begins national postseason competition for the 23rd consecutive season this week when the squad heads to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the 2012 NCAA Central Regional Thursday through Saturday at the University of Michigan Golf Course.
Hosted by the University of Michigan, the NCAA Central Regional is one of six qualifying events for this year’s NCAA Championships, which will be played May 28 through June 3 at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Only the top-5 teams from each regional will advance to the national tournament, along with the top individual finisher from each site not playing for a qualifying team.
The U-M Golf Course will play 6,723 yards during this week’s tournament and feature a par score of 71. The course is famous for being one of only six in the United States designed by famed architect Alister MacKenzie, who also helped create the famed course at Augusta National Golf Club. The Horned Frogs will be playing in Ann Arbor for the second time in postseason play; the squad tied for eight place in at the 1996 NCAA Central Regional to earn a trip to the NCAA Championship.
TCU will enter the weekend as the tournament’s No. 8 seed. Joining the Frogs in the field will be the following teams, listed in order by seed: No. 1 USC, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3. Kent State, No. 4 Virginia, No. 5 Baylor, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Kennesaw State, No. 9 Purdue, No. 10 North Carolina State, No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 12 Ohio State and No. 13 Navy. Ten additional individuals from non-qualifying teams will compete for the one spot reserved for the top finisher not on an advancing team.
The Frogs will be continuing a longstanding tradition of playing at Regionals this week. The program, led by 24th-year head coach Bill Montigel, is one of only four teams in the country to make appearances with the same head coach for each of the last 23 seasons. The squad is joined in the select company by Clemson, UNLV and Florida. The appearance also continues a streak that ranks as the longest team postseason run in TCU history for all sports. The Frog women’s golf program owns an active streak of 17 Regional appearances to rank second, while the men’s tennis program went to 16 straight Regionals from 1991 through 2006.
At stake for this season’s TCU squad is the chance to reach the NCAA Championships for the 16th time in program history, as well as the third time in the last four seasons. The squad earned trips to the national event in both 2009 and 2010 before finishing just one stroke shy of reaching the field last season.
TCU will utilize the same five-player lineup that competed two weeks ago at the Mountain West Championship, which saw the squad finish second to No. 14 San Diego State: freshman Julien Brun, senior Johan de Beer, junior Daniel Jennevret, freshman Thomas Mantovanini and sophomore Ian Phillips.
Like it has all season, TCU will count on big performances from its top three players in Brun, de Beer and Jennevret. All three Frogs currently rank among the nation’s top-154 players according to the latest Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. Brun (No. 10) and de Beer (No. 39) give TCU one of only three lineups in the NCAA Central Regional field with two players ranked among the nation’s top-40 golfers (USC and Oregon).
De Beer leads TCU into the week owning the longest hot streak on the team. He has posted five consecutive top-10 finishes, including a victory two weeks ago at the Mountain West Championship in Tucson, Ariz. The spring success has helped vault him nearly 250 spots in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings from where he finished the fall campaign, while he has lowered his season stroke average to a career-low figure of 71.75, which would rank No. 7 in program history. De Beer will be making his fourth career NCAA Regional appearance. His top finish came in 2010 at the NCAA South Regional in Bryan, Texas, where he placed fourth.
Brun will attempt to cap arguably the finest season by a TCU golfer ever to this point with a bid to the NCAA Championships. In addition to owning the No. 10 national rating according to Golfweek, he also currently is ranked No. 3 according to Golfstat. He was one of 10 semifinalists for this year’s Ben Hogan Award presented to the nation’s top college golfer and has earned top-medalist honors three times this season to set TCU single-season and career records. Brun’s current stroke average of 70.67 also is on pace to set a new school record, breaking the mark held by current PGA TOUR pro J.J. Henry (71.08 in 1998).
Like de Beer, Jennevret also has shown tremendous improvement this season, his best yet as a Frog. He has placed among the top 20 in five of 12 tournaments, while his stroke average of 73.06 is nearly two full shots better than his previous best set as a freshman in 2010 (74.92). Jennevret will be making his third career Regional appearance; his best finish was a tie for fifth as a freshman in 2010 in Bryan, Texas.
Joining TCU’s top-3 players in the lineup will be Mantovanini and Phillips, who, like Brun, will be making their first Regional appearances. Phillips has played in eight of Frogs’ 12 tournaments this season with his top finish coming back in mid-March at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate (t-26th). Mantovanini has played in six events, including a tie for 36th place in late February at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational.
All teams will participate in a practice round on Wednesday prior to Thursday’s opening round. Tee times for Rounds 1 and 2 begin at 8 a.m. EDT on Thursday and Friday, followed by a 7:30 a.m. EDT start Saturday.