BRYAN, Texas — With two more regionals for the NCAA Division I men's golf championship than the women, the requirements for advancing to the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma are much more stringent.
The top five teams advance (not six as it was at the four women's regionals, including the one at University Ridge GC in Madison), and the top individual not on those teams does also (not three as allowed a week ago in the NCAA women's format).
Like it or not, that makes the mission Wednesday during the final round of the Bryan Regional fairly straightforward for the Marquette duo of Hunter Eichhorn and Matt Murlick: Go low or go home.
Unfortunately for both, they are going to have to go really low. That's the bad news.
The good news is that no matter what happens over the final 18 holes for Eichhorn and Murlick, their best golf is ahead of them. One is a freshman (Eichhorn), the other a sophomore (Murlick) and the experience will likely mean more than the result going forward.
For the record, Eichhorn made an 18-spot jump Tuesday with a 1-under-par 71 and finished the second round in a tie for 19th place 1-over 145. Likewise, Murlick moved up 12 spots with an even-par 72 that boosted him to 2-over , or Murlick, a sophomore, their best golf is ahead of them and
Eichhorn shot a 1-under-par 71 to make an 18-spot jump into a tie for 19th place, while Murlick’s even par 72 brought him up 12 spots into a tie for 25th at 2-over 146 after two rounds.
Wednesday’s final round will determine qualification for the NCAA Championships, which is May 25 through 30 at Karsten Creek GC in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The top five teams and top player from a non-advancing team will move on to the 30 team, 156-player national championship.
Two other individual qualifiers appear to have the inside track in the battle for the single individual qualifying berth.
Blake Elliott of McNeese State (70-68) and Mitchell Meissner of Rice (71-69) are the only golfers inside the top 10 whose teams are not in the top five. That means Eichhorn would have to shoot 7-under 65 and would not only need Elliott to shoot 72 to catch him, but would also need the three golfers between him and the leader — as well as the four others vying for the individual spot who are tied with Eichhorn — to stay right where they are on the leaderboard.
You're right. It might be better to look back on the work both Golden Eagles golfers did to improve their position Tuesday than look ahead to what might never happen Wednesday.
Eichhorn went out in 2-under thanks to his eagle on the par-5, 584-yard 8th hole. After a double bogey on the par-4 13th, he made birdies on two of his last four to get back to 1-under for the round, his 17th round of par or better out of 31 total for the season.
Murlick was at even par through 14 holes before he made an eagle on the par-5, 551-yard 15th hole to get into red numbers. However, a double bogey-bogey-birdie finish left him at even-par 72, his 15th round of the season at par or better.
Scores were lower on Tuesday on the 7,127-yard course, down by nearly a stroke to 73.49 for an average round. Texas A&M is atop the team leaderboard at 18-under 558 (one shot ahead of Clemson) behind co-leaders in Chandler Phillips and Brandon Smith, who have each fired a pair of 68s.
Eichhorn tees off his final round at 9:20 a.m. CT, while Murlick goes off at 9:42 a.m. Both players will start on hole No. 1.