NORMAN, Okla. Thanks to a solid team performance in Saturday's final round of the NCAA Central Regional, the University of Oklahoma men's golf team secured a berth in the NCAA Championships for the second time in three years.
"The Central Region had lot of strong teams and I was very proud of our effort to be able to come out and put together a good final round and do what we needed to do to advance," head coach Jim Ragan said.
The Sooners fired a three-over team score of 287 in Saturday’s round to finish in seventh place with a tournament total of 877 (+25).
All-American Anthony Kim paced the OU attack with a clutch one-under-par 70 on his final 18, launching him into a tie for fourth place overall.
Shawn LaFontaine, a senior from Cobourg, Ontario, tied for 15th after carding a two-over 73 to finish at 217 (+4).
Senior Justin Fraley turned in his best performance of the tournament, birdying two of his final five holes to finish with a solid even-par 71 on Saturday.
Big 12 runner-up Brodie Flanders recovered nicely from a second-round 81 to post a two-over-par 73 in the final round for the Sooners’ final counting score of the day.
"Once again it was very much a team effort," Ragan said. "We needed everybody to play well to have the success that we had this week."
Oklahoma was tied for tenth after the first round and stood precariously close to the cutline after battling rainy and windy conditions in round two.
"In the first round we didn’t take advantage of some situations. That was the best weather we had all week and we ended up giving a few strokes back," Ragan said. "In the second round we started out great, shooting even-par on the front. Then the rain and the wind kind of picked up and we ended up shooting 14-over on the back."
"That’s what makes today that much better. We had some adversity and we got into a position where we had to play well and the guys stepped up and did it when they needed it."
The Sooners missed the championship cut last year, finishing in 22nd place. Three OU players were stricken with food poisoning during the tournament. With that bad taste left in their mouth from last season, this year's squad savors the chance to compete for the NCAA crown.
"We were well-prepared to make it through and we are peaking at the right time," Kim said. "I think we all expected to make it through and now we just have to look forward to nationals."
Oklahoma State took home both the team and individual titles. The Cowboys outpaced runner-up Northwestern by 16 strokes. Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Jonathan Moore fired a final-round 67 to best teammate Zack Robinson by one shot.
Other teams qualifying for the NCAA Championships from the Central Region include Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Lamar, Minnesota, Clemson, Duke and Kentucky.
The individual qualifiers were Robert Streb of Kansas State and Texas' Randy Lowry.
The 2006 NCAA Men's Golf Championships will be held May 31-June 3 at the Crosswater Golf Club in Sunriver, Ore.