Last season, Oregon men’s golf missed the NCAA Championship cut by two strokes. This time around, Oregon will be making its 26th NCAA Championship appearance at the Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas from May 23-28.
If the Eugene regional proved anything, it was that Oregon can play with the best. Thomas Lim, Brandon McIver and Zach Foushee each dueled golfers from No. 4 Stanford and No. 14 Oklahoma to finish second behind the Cardinal, largely due to the performance of the top amateur golfer and Ben Hogan Award winner Patrick Rodgers.
Oregon had a chance to tie Stanford on the last hole of the tournament but ended up just one stroke back of the lead. Lim shot a 4-under third round to finish the regional in second with an even-par scorecard, six strokes back of the individual champion Rodgers.
Lim, Foushee, McIver, Jonathan Woo and Sulman Raza were chosen to take the course this weekend for Oregon. Ranked 39th overall by Golfweek, Oregon has an outside chance at advancing in the championships.
“Obviously we’re not the favorite, but stranger things have happened,” head coach Casey Martin said. “Who won basketball this year, what seed were they? Stranger things have happened and we’re going to go out there and go battle.”
Lim, who battled strep-throat throughout his impressive regional rounds, and Foushee, who overcame a disappointing regular season to golf alongside Rodgers in the final group of the Eugene regional, each defied expectations last weekend.
“The beginning of the year I was going through some struggles with my swing and was thinking too much about the mechanics,” Foushee said. “I just forgot about it and played the game I love to play.”
“Expectations play such a huge role in how you perform,” Martin said. “Sometimes when the expectations are less, you really excel.”
Oregon will need similar performances from Lim and Foushee to stick around at the grueling six-day competition.
Starting May 23, the 30-team field will complete three rounds of stroke play and the top 40 players will advance for one additional round of stroke play to name a 72-hole stroke play individual champion on May 26. The top eight teams after the initial three rounds of play will be placed into a standard seeded bracket for match play from May 27-28. Each match will be worth one point and the first team to earn three points in the team match advances.
The Ducks will be joined by five other Pac-12 schools, three of which have won the title in the past decade (California, Stanford and UCLA). Oregon’s last appearance at the NCAA Championships in 2008 ended in the penultimate match-play round alongside Cal, UCLA and Washington.
Golfstat will feature live scoring throughout the event and the Golf Channel will have live coverage of the individual championship starting May 26 at 2 p.m. PST and match play from May 27-28 at 2 p.m.
Follow Josh Schlichter on Twitter @joshschlichter