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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (May 16, 2015) – It was a bittersweet day for junior Gudmundur Kristjansson (Reykjavik, Iceland) and the ETSU men’s golf team.
Kristjansson advanced to the NCAA Championship after finishing in sixth-place at 3-under-par 213, but the Buccaneers missed the cut after dropping to seventh in the final round of the San Diego Regional on Saturday afternoon at The Farms Golf Club.
Kristjansson, the first ETSU men’s golfer to qualify for the NCAA Championship since Rhys Enoch in 2010, advanced out of the regional after placing as the top individual from a non-qualifying team. The Buccaneer junior, who totaled 11 birdies in the 54-holes this weekend, registered three on the weekend on the front nine in Saturday’s final round, but posted three bogeys on the back nine to finish at 1-over 73. Kristjansson held off Wichita State’s Grant Bennett, Mississippi’s Blake Morris and St. Mary’s Perry Cohen to finish as the top golfer from a non-advancing team as the trio finished 2-under-par 214 for the tournament.
“Obviously, I am happy to be going to Nationals, but I’d prefer to be going as a team and not an individual,” said Kristjansson. “I had a solid opening round on Thursday and managed to do enough to stay near the top of the leaderboard. I didn’t play particularly well today and didn’t know I advanced to Nationals until 20 minutes after my round was over. It was a bittersweet moment, because I would much rather be sharing this with my teammates.”
“I am proud of Gudmundur to be advancing to Nationals,” said head coach Fred Warren. “Only one individual from each regional advances, so it speaks well to have Gudmundur continue playing. It’s disappointing for our team, but it’ll be a great experience for Gudmundur. I’m delighted for him and he’s deserving of this since he had a good spring season. It’s a wonderful opportunity to play in the NCAA Championship and represent ETSU.”
Unfortunately, Kristjansson will be heading to Bradenton, Fla., individually, as ETSU – who began the day in fourth-place and was sitting in second midway through the final round – shot 9-over down the stretch to finish 16-over-par 880 (289-294-297) for the regional. In the end, the Bucs missed the cut by six strokes, as No. 25 Virginia was the last team in at 10-over-par 874.
“We didn’t play well today,” said Warren. “We had a good opportunity to advance, but regionals are tough. We just didn’t make it over the hurdle this year.”
Oklahoma won the regional after finishing the three-day tournament at 21-under-par 843 (284-275-284), while No. 3 Arizona State, No. 10 Georgia Tech and No. 29 Georgia also finished in the top five to secure a spot in the NCAA Championship. The 14th-ranked Sooners shot a 4-under 284 in the final round and the Sun Devils carded the lowest round of the day at 6-under 282.
Arizona State’s Jon Rahm began the day in first place and never relinquished his lead as he earned medalist honors after finishing at 10-under-par 206 (73-64-69). Rahm, the No. 2-ranked golfer nationally, held off Oklahoma’s Max McGreevy and Michael Gellerman by two shots.
Meanwhile, senior Rhys Pugh (Pontypridd, Wales) led the Blue and Gold on Saturday as the Welshman fired a 2-under 70 in his final collegiate round and tied for 40th at 8-over-par 224 (81-73-70).
Juniors Chris Hickman (Centreville, Md.) and Adrian Meronk (Wroclaw, Poland), along with sophomore Mateusz Gradecki’s (Oborniki Slaskie, Poland) all posted a 5-over 77 in the final round. Meronk, the 16th-ranked golfer, tied for 49th (9-over-par 225), while Gradecki tied for 55th (10-over-par 226) and Hickman tied for 57th at 12-over-par 228.
The NCAA Championship is held May 29-June 3 at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
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For more information on Buccaneer men’s golf, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s golf page.