Red Raiders Men's Golf...NCAA Championship Bound - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Red Raiders Men's Golf...NCAA Championship Bound

SUGAR GROVE, IL - Proving to be no easy task, the Texas Tech men's golf team will be advancing to the 2007 NCAA Championships after placing seventh at the NCAA Central Regional. The Red Raiders finished with rounds of 315-291-301-907, 43-over-par, to qualify for the title tournament for the second-consecutive year. This feat marks the first back-to-back championship appearance for Tech since 1959-60.

"Last year I said that the next step is to consistently make the Championships," head coach Greg Sands said. "It feels good to get closer to doing that. It is not easy to do anymore."

The Red Raiders have qualified for the NCAA Championships for the seventh time in school history and third overall under Sands. Now in his sixth season, Sands advanced his Red Raider squad in 2002 and 2006.

Tech was again led by outstanding senior Oscar Floren, who notched his 23rd top 10 finish of his Red Raider career. His sixth-place tie has helped prolong his collegiate playing career, as he will finish with 48 total events played for Tech. He completed the regional tournament after posting scores of 75-73-73-221, 5-over par.

Although being paced by Floren, Sands gives credit to his entire five-man team with pulling out a top-10 finish. Four of the Red Raiders marked improvement on the individual leaderboard after Saturday's round.

"Everyone hung in there and played well," Sands said. "There were so many key things that happened today. The biggest thing was that everyone was in it. If someone stumbled down the stretch, there was someone else to pick us up. I was impressed with the entire team."

Tied for 57th place at the conclusion of Friday, freshman Will Griffin moved to finish 37th following 54 holes of play. The San Antonio native carded round of 78-76-74-228 to finish 12-over par. Matt Smith, who was the only Red Raider to fire a round of under-par, slipped in the standings on Saturday. The Australia freshman finished in a 53rd-place tie, shooting scores of 82-70-80-232 (+16). Up 24 places after the third round was sophomore Santiago Rivas. Rivas, a product of Colombia, shot rounds of 87-72-76-235 to tie for 72nd place with teammate Garrett Merrell. Sophomore Merrell had scores of 80-77-78-235, 19-over par.

Tulsa held onto the top spot, finishing three shots ahead of the top-ranked team in the field Alabama. The Golden Hurricane fired rounds of 305-280-310-895, 31-over par. Other teams advancing from the central region are, in order of finish, Louisville, Lamar, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Texas and Minnesota. Texas A&M lost in a playoff to the Golden Gophers, as each program finished with a 54-over 918 after three rounds.

Lamar's Dawie Van Der Walt and Wisconsin's Dan Woltman each finished one-under par with a 54-hole score of 215, leading all individuals.

The NCAA Championships are set to take place May 31-June 2nd from the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Virg., and hosted by Virginia Commonwealth. For more information on the entire 30-team field please visit http://www.ncaasports.com. A complete championships preview can be found on www.texastech.com as the date nears.

NCAA Central Regional:

Qualifying Team Scores: 1. Tulsa 305-280-310-895, 2. Alabama 309-287-302-898, 3. Louisville 294-298-307-899, 4. Lamar 313-281-306-900, 5. Tennessee 314-289-301-904, 6. Oklahoma State 306-300-300-906, 7. Texas Tech 315-291-301-907, 8. Michigan State 391-290-306-915, 9. Texas 303-302-311-916, T10. (winning in a playoff) Minnesota 314-290-314-918.

Top Individuals: T1. Dawie Van Der Walt, Lamar 71-69-75-215, T1. Dan Woltman, Wisconsin 73-71-71-215, 3. Tim Streng, Western Illinois 74-70-75-219, T4. Jason Kokrak, Xavier 78-71-71-220, T4. Michael Thompson, Alabama 83-67-70-220.

Tech Individuals: T6. Oscar Floren 75-73-73-221, T37. Will Griffin 78-76-74-228, T53. Matt Smith 82-70-80-232, T72. Santiago Rivas 87-82-76-235, T72. Garrett Merrell 80-77-78-235.
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