Hybl's squad in action Thursday through Saturday, eyes second straight NCAA finals berth.
May 16 , 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- The 30th-ranked University of Oklahoma men's golf team will compete in the 14-team 2012 NCAA Norman Regional this Thursday through Saturday (May 17-19) on its own 7,351-yard, par-72 Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club course.
The regional will consist of 54 holes played over three days with the top five teams advancing to the NCAA finals, to be held May 29-June 3 at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
"We've had ups and downs, but at the end of the day I think we are ready to go this week," said OU head coach Ryan Hybl. "Hopefully the boys can just relax, have a good time this week and play some good golf."
OU is serving as the host school for the event. It is the first time since a 1997 NCAA regional that the men's program has hosted an event on its campus course. The Sooners placed 11th then, but look to overcome the added pressure of playing at home this time around.
"I definitely think there is a lot more pressure that our guys can put on themselves," said Hybl, "but at the end of the day, they've got to be able to fight through that and play good golf. The comfort of our home golf course should hopefully outweigh that pressure. Once they get off the first tee box and down the first hole, hopefully a lot of that stuff goes away."
Senior Riley Pumphrey, in his fifth year with the program, is looking forward to the opportunity to play on the Sooners' home course.
"It is the first time we've been able to host a tournament since I've been here," Pumphrey said. "It's very exciting to play our home golf course."
Pumphrey said OU should not be satisfied with just finishing in the top five, which would result in an NCAA finals berth.
"I think we should try to win the tournament," he said. "A lot of times, guys shoot just to finish in (the top five), but we need to come out and try to win."
Last season, the 24th-ranked Sooners finished third at the NCAA East Regional in Radford, Va., to earn the program's 32nd NCAA finals appearance. OU advanced with ease, finishing 22 shots clear of sixth-place Virginia Tech. Then-sophomore Abraham Ancer earned medalist honors at the event, finishing with a 6-under-par 210. The Sooners went on to finish 28th at the NCAA finals in Stillwater, Okla.
In order of seed, this week's regional includes top-ranked Texas, No. 9 Georgia Tech (ACC champion), No. 13 Washington, No. 24 Florida State, No. 34 St. Mary's (Calif.) (West Coast Conference champion), No. 32 Illinois (Big Ten champion), No. 47 Middle Tennessee, South Carolina, San Diego, Arizona, Sacramento State (American Sky Men's Golf Conference champion), IUPUI (The Summit League champion) and Loyola-Chicago (Horizon League champion).
Also competing as individuals will be UTEP's Martin Simonsen, Nevada's Kevin Lucas, Stephen F. Austin's Mitchell McLeroy, Nebraska's Scott Willman and UALR's Alfred Kerstis.
OU's lineup will feature junior Abraham Ancer, Pumphrey, freshman Michael Gellerman, junior Will Kropp and sophomore Michael Schoolcraft.
Oklahoma is led by its upperclassman duo of Ancer and Pumphrey. The two have competed in a combined 67 rounds this year, earning 15 of the team's 26 top-20 finishes.
Ancer, who owns a team-best 72.42 scoring average, is coming off a season-best third-place tie at the Big 12 Championship in Trinity, Texas. He leads the team with two top-five, four top-10 and nine top-20 finishes in a team-high 13 events. Ancer also paces the squad with eight rounds in the 60s.
Pumphrey earned season-best finishes of eighth place at the UTSA/Oak Hills Invitational and Linger Longer Invitational. He ranks second on the team with three top-10 and six top-20 finishes, as well as with his 72.66 stroke average.
Gellerman made an immediate impact on the program, participating in the team's first five events of the season. The true freshman's 10 team events are second most on the squad. Gellerman holds a 73.44 scoring average and is coming off a career-best 11th-place tie at the Big 12 Championship.
Kropp has seen action in all six team events this spring and one individual event in the fall, recording a 74.50 scoring average and two top-20 finishes.
Schoolcraft owns OU's third-best scoring average, posting a 73.10 through 21 rounds. His three-round 214 (-2) was a team-low in the Sooners' lone tournament victory this season at the David Toms Intercollegiate.
Oklahoma is looking to return to the NCAA finals for the second consecutive year. It is California or bust for Hybl's squad.
"If we don't make nationals, it would be a huge disappointment to us," said Hybl. "That means we've got to play good golf. For us, it's just a matter of taking care of business. If we play good golf like we are supposed to, we will be OK this week."
Fifth-seeded Oklahoma will be paired with fourth-seeded Florida State and sixth-seeded St. Mary's in Thursday's first round. They will tee off starting at 8:20 a.m. CT on the 10th hole. Live scoring will be available on Golfstat.com.
Admission to the Norman Regional is free.