CHATTANOOGA (May 17, 2008) - After a first round he wanted to forget, ETSU's Cian McNamara (Limerick, Ireland) was looking for a way to make amends. The senior certainly found an appropriate way to wash away the bad memories during Saturday's final round at the NCAA East Regional.
McNamara fired a team-best 4-under-par 67 that powered the No. 21-ranked Buccaneers to a remarkable charge from 13th on the team leaderboard to a final finish of eighth at the Council Fire Golf Club. McNamara, who was joined in the 60s by teammate Seamus Power (Waterford, Ireland) with a 68 and fellow senior Gareth Shaw (Lisburn, Northern Ireland) with a 69, helped the Buccaneers to a team score of 8-under 276 on the day, and lifted ETSU to its 17th berth all-time in the NCAA Championships.
"I was really disappointed with my first round and felt like I had let myself and the team down, especially being a senior," said McNamara, who posted a 10-over 81 during the first round but enjoyed a round with seven birdies Saturday. "I definitely wanted to made amends, so instead of putting pressure on myself and thinking about this being my last tournament, I just went out there and trusted myself. That attitude paid off and it was really satisfying watching the rest of the guys coming in with their scores."
ETSU head coach Fred Warren said his team's efforts on the back nine were unforgettable.
"We kind of just hung in there on the front, but to just watch everything unfold on the back and the way we finished up this tournament was really an impressive thing to experience," said Warren, whose squad will be making its third straight appearance in the NCAA Championships. "We just started making putts. At one point I saw us pick up seven birdies in a five-hole stretch from 10 to 14, and then Seamus finished the back with a 31, Cian had a 33, Rhys (Enoch) had a 34 and Gareth had a 35. Everyone just played really well coming in. It was one of the best rounds I've seen - especially the back nine."
While McNamara's efforts highlighted the day, it was the consistent play of Power and Shaw that kept the Bucs in contention throughout the event. Ultimately, the two finished tied for eighth on the leaderboard, with Power posting scores of 71-68-69=207, while Shaw finished at 67-71-69=207. Freshman Rhys Enoch (Cornwall, England) finished Saturday at 1-over 72 and ended the event tied for 80th.
As for the rest of the field, Georgia's Russell Henley and UAB's Zach Sucher finished tied for the top spot on the leaderboard, while the Bulldogs continued their dominance of the team standings and ended the event 21 strokes ahead of second place Augusta State.
McNamara said he hopes to continue the memories in his third trip to the NCAAs.
"The confidence we're bringing in should help us, especially after today," McNamara said. "It shows we have the talent this year to finish high and even contend at nationals. That's not a false hope."
The Bucs will now turn their attention to the NCAA Championships, which will be held May 28-31 at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex's Kampen Course in West Lafayette, Indiana. Visit ETSUBucs.com for updates and complete coverage of the team's trip to nationals.