COLUMBUS, Ohio -- No. 17-ranked Texas A&M battled through high winds on Saturday to finish seventh at the NCAA Men's Golf Central Regional, sending the Aggies to the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in the last five years.
The top 10 teams from each of the three regionals advanced to the national tournament May 28-31 in West Lafayette, Ind. The Aggies tied for 10th at last year's central regional but lost a playoff for the final qualifying berth.
"We did what we came here to do and that's advance to nationals," A&M Coach J.T. Higgins said. "We are excited to be going back. We think we have a program that should never miss the national tournament and we're glad we put last year to rest."
With winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour on Ohio State's Scarlet Golf Course, the average score was almost seven-over-par. Of the 140 players in the field, only four managed to shoot par or better. A&M closed with a 21-over 305, a round that included seven double bogeys and only eight birdies.
"It was really tough out there today and I was proud of the way we battled," Higgins said. "Our guys made some great pars and even a birdie coming in. We hung in there and advanced and that's what it's all about. Everyone has a clean slate at nationals. If we play the way we are capable and stick to our game plan, we know we have chance to win the thing."
No. 22 Wake Forest captured the title by 10 strokes at 879. Others advancing were No. 5 Oklahoma State (889), Illinois (891), No. 6 Florida (894), No. 25 Louisville (894), No. 1 Alabama (896), A&M (298-294-305=897), Kent State (898), Penn State (898) and No. 23 Indiana (901). No. 11 Tennessee (902) missed tying for the final berth by just one shot.
Other teams not advancing were Michigan (904), Eastern Kentucky (904), Eastern Michigan (906), No. 8 Georgia Tech (908), Lamar (911), Ohio State (911), Colorado (912), TCU (914), Arkansas (914), Wichita State (914), Texas-Arlington (916), Cleveland State (926), Marquette (930), Baylor (939), Sacred Heart (950) and Loyola College (953).
Oklahoma State's Kevin Tway won individual honors with a one-over total of 70-69-75=214.
A&M freshman Nacho Elvira (74-74-74=222) tied for 12th, sophomore Andrea Pavan (74-72-79=225) tied for 33rd, juniors Matt Van Zandt (75-73-78=226) and Bronson Burgoon (75-77-74=226) tied for 41st, and senior Bobby Gates (75-75-84=234) tied for 102nd.
Three other Big 12 teams competed in the West regional in Bremerton, Wash. Texas won a three-way playoff for the last two qualifying spots. Texas Tech missed the playoff by one shot and Oklahoma was four back.
The Aggies placed 14th in their last appearance at the national tournament in 2006. A&M has not finished in the top 10 since 1984, when it was 10th.