CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Austin Peay State University men’s golf team will be heading west to participate in the NCAA Division I Regional.
The Governors, who were awarded a No. 12 seed after earning the Ohio Valley Conference automatic bid with their recent tourney championship, will head to Tempe, Ariz., to play at the ASU Karsten Golf Course. UCLA is the No. 1 seed, followed by Duke, Georgia, Texas A&M, Clemson, Vanderbilt, UCF, North Carolina, host Arizona State, Kennesaw State, Arizona, the Governors, New Mexico State and Lehigh. The Governors, Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference), New Mexico State (Western Athletic Conference) and Lehigh (Patriot League) are the only respective conference’s automatic qualifiers in the heavy at-large bid regional.
The Governors are expected to utilize the same lineup that carried them to the OVC title, featuring senior Dustin Korte, juniors Anthony Bradley and Maro Iten, sophomore Tucker Wallace and freshman Chris Baker. They will have a opportunity to practice in Arizona before the three-day tourney commences May 16. The top five teams from each of the six regionals will advance to the NCAA championship, May 28 - June 2, at the Capital City Club/Crabapple Course in Atlanta.
“Our guys are determined,” APSU coach Kirk Kayden said. “They definitely want to compete and play hard at this next level. We put up a schedule strong enough this year that it should help them in a situation like this. We played a regional field at Memphis and played well.
“We just have to have the same mentality we have had all year—playing one shot at a time, one round at a time—and see what we can do.”
This will be the Governors first desert golf tournament under Kayden. The ASU Karsten Golf Course plays at 7,036 yards with a par 70. It is considered a classic Pete Dye, links-style course with mountain ranges visible on many holes. The Scottish influence carries to the undulating fairways and massive mounds. The course is adorned with Dye’s famous pot bunkers.
“We are pretty excited about the site,” APSU coach Kirk Kayden said. “I thought it would be a little regionally closer but with our ranking this year they considered that as well.
“We have never been to Arizona before. In the nine years I have been here, we have never played any desert golf. I heard the golf course is great, but don’t know a lot about it. We will have time to research it.
“It should be an exciting week for us.”
Austin Peay only has to think back to 2012 when UTC was a sixth seed and not only achieved a Top 5 finish, but won the regional as well in stunning fashion over heavy favorite UCLA and Texas A&M. Memphis was the other team that advanced to the NCAA tournament—the Govs defeated Memphis earlier this year in the Tigers own tournament.
“UTC and Liberty are two teams we look to,” Kayden said. “Liberty finished Top 15 last year and had a phenomenal year. We are no different than those programs were five years ago. Chattanooga is a perfect example. They were ranked 125th last year and they just kept climbing down and down.
“We have gone from 130 or 140 at the start of the year to 73. We have shown in doing that we can compete with schools who are ranked ahead of us.”