Conference USA Champs Begin NCAA Play Thursday
Owls take on strong national field at Raleigh Regional
May 13, 2014
RALEIGH, N.C. - Rice University men's golf continues its season this weekend at the NCAA Raleigh Regional at NC State's Lonnie Poole Golf Course spanning May 15-17. The 2014 Conference USA champion will vie for one of the top-five berths in the NCAA Championship among 13 teams over 54 holes on the par-71, 7,213-yard course.
2014 C-USA Coach of the Year Justin Emil said, "I think it's important in golf that you focus on not making one shot more important than the next, and with tournaments you need to focus on what you can control. If we make this one bigger than just a regular round of golf or regular tournament then it's going to be hard for us to execute the shots we need to execute and to have the outcome that we want."
"We're going to go into it the same way we'd go into a regular season event: we're going to play the practice round and get a nice dinner the day before, we're going to be well rested and have a game plan and go out and compete. We're going to control the things we can control, take it one shot at a time and if we can do that well this week, I think we're going to be pleased with the results and it could extend our season to the national championship."
Top-seeded Georgia Tech highlights the field and the 12th-seeded Owls will face off with 11 other strong programs as well, including: Washington, Florida State, Texas A&M, Mercer, Kentucky, Texas Tech, Wake Forest, South Alabama, Memphis, Minnesota and Bethune-Cookman. Ten individuals will also round out the field.
The trip marks the program's seventh trip to the NCAA Tournament and first since 2010, when the team claimed 11th out of 14 teams at the NCAA Regional in College Station. Rice played in the postseason three-straight years from 1990-92, advancing through the regional to the Championship event each time. The Owls also earned at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament in 1995 and '97.
Rice will send out the five-man lineup of senior Landon Michelson, junior Tommy Economou, sophomore James Lee, C-USA Freshman of the Year Kevin Reilly and fellow rookie Alex Levy. It marks the fourth-straight tournament for this lineup as the group brought home the program's first league title in 75 years in late April.
Regarding Reilly's recent accolades, Emil added, "It's an exciting thing for Kevin to be named Freshman of the Year. He played solid all season and he earned it. I think that's one thing that will build confidence for him and he's achieved some of the goals he had at the beginning of the year. As he goes forward, he can reevaluate that and set bigger goals. It's important to build that confidence but also to continue working hard as we move forward."
Thursday and Friday's rounds tee off at 8 a.m. ET with Saturday's final round opening at 7:30 a.m. ET. The Owls open play on the 10th hole beginning at 9:10 a.m. ET on Thursday, paired with Memphis and Minnesota.