Men's Golf Posts 13th-Place Finish at NCAA Championships
The Waves wrapped up their best season in more than a decade.
SUGAR GROVE, Illinois -- The Pepperdine men's golf team wrapped up a tremendous 2016-17 season, the program's best in more than a decade, with a 13th-place finish at the NCAA Championships on Monday.
The Waves qualified for the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2011, made the 54-hole cut after a dramatic day of golf on Sunday and ended with their best finish at nationals since 2004.
High winds sent scores skyrocketing on Monday, and despite a score of 23-over, the Waves edged out both Florida State and UCF by one stroke in the team standings. The Waves, who began the round in 14th place, finished with a four-day total of a 28-over 1,180 (289-293-287-311) at the par-72 Rich Harvest Farms.
Only the top eight teams moved on to match play, which begins Tuesday.
"I told the guys afterward just how thankful we are for them," said Michael Beard, who was making his first trip to the NCAAs as head coach in his fifth season. "We did some amazing things this spring and I couldn't be happier. Not just with the direction of the program, but how well they came together as a team. It was really neat to see. This is the best group I've been around in coaching. It wasn't ever about any one guy, it was always a great team effort every week."
With two freshmen, two sophomores and one senior in the lineup, the Waves brought the third-youngest team (tied) to the NCAA Championships, and it's a group that expects to be back again next year and beyond.
"I hope in a week or two these guys will look back and realize that they had a good showing at the national championship, but I know right now our freshmen and at least one of our sophomores are hurting a little and wishing they had played a little better," Beard said. "It's good to have those guys hungry and wanting more. We get this core group back for two more years, and we're building something special. Who knows what's ahead of us, but I feel like we'll back here competing again."
Sophomore Sahith Theegala (Chino Hills, Calif./Diamond Bar HS), the West Coast Conference co-Player of the Year, earned the Waves' best individual finish at nationals since 2005. He tied for 19th place with an even-par 288 (71-71-71-75). He had five birdies on Monday, including one on Waves' final hole of the tournament that proved to be the margin between 13th and 14th place.
Freshman Clay Feagler (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Dana Hills HS) had the best round of the day for the Waves, a 1-over 73, which was a tremendous performance considering the average score was 77.25 on Monday. Feagler's round included five birdies. He ended up tied for 70th place at 300 (74-77-76-73).
Freshman Joshua McCarthy (Danville, Calif./De La Salle HS) tied for 56th at 297 (69-75-73-80), sophomore Roy Cootes (Rolling Hills, Calif./Palos Verdes HS) was 76th at 302 (75-70-73-84) and senior Robbie Geibel (Pembroke Pines, Fla./American Heritage HS/Louisville) was 83rd at 312 (80-79-70-83). McCarthy had three birdies on Monday, all consecutively on holes 5, 6 and 7. Geibel and Cootes had two birdies apiece.
For the tournament, Theegala had a team-high 17 birdies (the tournament leader had 21). Geibel was one of seven players to record two eagles over the four days (both of Geibel's came on Sunday on par-4s). Feagler was one of the tournament's top performers on par-5s, going a combined 7-under.
Pepperdine, which won the 1997 NCAA title at nearby Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Illinois, was making its ninth appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Team Scores: 1. Vanderbilt 278-288-280-293=1,139; 2. Oklahoma 284-279-284-304=1,151; 3. Illinois 282-283-285-304=1,154; 4. Oklahoma State 282-287-283-303=1,155; T5. Oregon 294-282-289-293=1,158; T5. USC 284-283-280-311=1,158; T7. Baylor 288-280-287-304=1,159; T7. UNLV 283-279-285-312=1,159; 9. LSU 291-277-290-303=1,161; 10. Virginia 288-283-284-307=1,162; 11. Auburn 282-284-290-308=1,164; 12. Texas 293-283-283-307=1,166; 13. Pepperdine 289-293-287-311=1,180; T14. Florida State 289-285-286-321=1,181; T14. UCF 294-284-293-310=1,181.
Missed Cut: 16. Arizona State 290-293-289=872; 17. Alabama 287-293-293=873; T18. Iowa State 293-285-297=875; T18. North Carolina 293-287-295=875; 20. Stanford 293-287-299=879; 21. Kent State 289-293-299=881; T22. Duke 298-292-298=888; T22. Ole Miss 287-299-302=888; T24. Penn State 301-294-296=891; T24. Lipscomb 300-291-300=891; T26. Jacksonville 294-296-302=892; T26. New Mexico 297-295-300=892; 28. Purdue 298-295-309=902; 29. Kennesaw State 297-300-307=904; 30. Clemson 313-285-307=905.
Top Individuals: 1. Braden Thornberry (Ole Miss) 66-71-69-71=277; 2. Mason Overstreet (Arkansas) 70-68-72-71=281; T3. Matthias Schwab (Vanderbilt) 67-70-70-75=282; T3. Scottie Scheffler (Texas) 68-68-68-78=282; T3. Theo Humphrey (Vanderbilt) 71-72-69-70=282.