COLUMBUS, OH -- No. 17-ranked Texas A&M will compete in the NCAA Central Regional beginning on Thursday at Ohio State’s Scarlet Golf Course.
The 54-hole event continues through Saturday with the top 10 teams advancing to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship May 28-31 in West Lafayette, Ind. The East Regional will be in Chattanooga, Tenn., and the West Regional will be in Bremerton, Wash.
The 9th-seeded Aggies will be making their sixth straight NCAA appearance under Head Coach J.T. Higgins. A&M tied for 10th at last year’s central regional in Sugar Grove, Ill, losing a playoff for a berth in the national finals. The Aggies finished third at regionals in 2005 and 2006 and were fourth in 2004.
Other teams in the Central Regional Field (with seeding) are top-ranked Alabama (1), No. 5 Oklahoma State (2), No. 8 Georgia Tech (3), No. 6 Florida (4), No. 11 Tennessee (5), Lamar (6), No. 22 Wake Forest (7), No. 23 Indiana (8), No. 25 Louisville (10), Wichita State (11), Kent State (12), Penn State (13), Arkansas (14), Michigan (15), TCU (16), Texas-Arlington (17), Illinois (18), Ohio State (19), Baylor (20) Colorado (21), Eastern Kentucky (22), Marquette (23), Eastern Michigan (24), Cleveland State (25), Loyola (Md.) (26) and Sacred Heart (27).
“This is the most exciting time of the year and what we have been working for all season,” Higgins said. “We really want to get back to the national tournament. The Scarlet Course is such an historic location and an outstanding test of golf. I think it is a great course for us because it is a very long, demanding course that rewards patience. When we are patient, focused and composed, we are one of the best teams in the country. Our goal is simply to stay patient and let things happen instead of trying to force it. I feel good about where we are right now and look forward to seeing what we can do.”
A&M is led by senior Bobby Gates, who leads the team with a 73.00 scoring average and is ranked No. 64 nationally by Golfweek. A three-time All-Big 12 pick, he is competing in his fourth straight NCAA regional and placed fifth as a freshman in 2005. With 148 career rounds, Gates needs three more to break Andrew Parr’s (2003-06) school record of 150.
Junior Bronson Burgoon, who sat out the fall season but has played in all six spring events, is the top career scorer in A&M history with a 72.85 average. An All-America as a sophomore, Burgoon was the runner-up at the John Burns Intercollegiate in February, tying the school record with a 13-under-par 70-68-65=203.
Ranked No. 73 by Golfweek, freshman Nacho Elvira carries a 73.79 stroke average and won the Barona Collegiate Cup in March with a 12-under 67-71-66=204. The reigning Spanish Amateur champion, he recently competed in the Spanish Open, a European PGA Tour event.
Sophomore Andrea Pavan is second on the team in scoring at 73.36 and placed fifth at the Big 12 Championship, which was highlighted by a bogey-free 67 in the second round. He tied for second at the Barona Cup, finishing just three shots behind Elvira.
Junior Matt Van Zandt averages 73.50 and has placed in the top 25 in five of six spring events, including a tie for sixth at the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
A&M has had a strong spring season, winning the Barona Collegiate Cup by 20 strokes with a school-record score of 37-under. The previous record was set in late February, when the Aggies shot 33-under in a runner-up finish at the Burns Intercollegiate in Hawaii. The Aggies tied for second at the PING/Arizona State Invitational and were fourth at the Big 12 Championship.
A total of eight Big 12 teams advanced to postseason play. In addition to the four teams in the Central Regional (A&M, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Colorado), four Big 12 members will play in the West Regional: Texas Tech (8), Texas (12), Oklahoma (22) and Kansas State (23).