Fourteen of the nation’s premier collegiate golf teams are preparing for the NCAA Myrtle Beach Regional at TPC Myrtle Beach, which will be held May 13-15. We have a quick primer on an event that will be bring future PGA Tour pros to the area and help decide this year’s NCAA National Champion.
What’s at Stake: The Myrtle Beach Regional is one of six that will be played across the nation May 13-15. The top 5 teams and the low scoring at-large individual will advance to the NCAA National Championship May 24-29 in Fayetteville, Ark.
The Field: Wake Forest (No. 4), California (No. 8), Texas Tech (No. 18), Illinois (No. 23), Florida State (No. 25), UNLV (No. 34), Oregon (No. 35), Ohio State (No. 52), Northwestern (No. 54), Oregon State (No. 62), Cal State Fullerton No. 67), Middle Tennessee State (No. 110), VCU (No. 134) and Robert Morris (No. 259).
At-Large Individual Invites: Zack Taylor (Coastal Carolina), Jack Lang (Davidson), Florian Schroedl (Fairleigh Dickenson), Bobby Bai (Central Florida) and Kyler Tate (Central Florida)
How Strong is the Field?
Five of the 14 teams competing are ranked among America’s top 25 collegiate teams and seven are ranked among the top 35. The pre-regional favorite is Wake Forest, the fourth-ranked team in the nation, and No. 8 California. The Myrtle Beach Regional will be home to 16 of the nation’s top 100 players, but if you can only watch one, keep an eye on Collin Morikawa, who will lead the Golden Bears into the event. Morikawa, a senior, is the second-ranked collegiate player in America and the third-ranked junior in the world. Morikawa, who has a career stroke average of 69.69, will arrive in Myrtle Beach on a roll, having won medalist honors at Pac 12 Championship. The second highest ranked player in the field is No. 11 John Pak, a sophomore from Florida State who won medalist honors at the ACC Championship earlier this month.
Strength in Numbers
The highest ranked player on the Wake Forest roster is “only” No. 17 Cameron Young, but the Demon Deacons strength is the depth of their lineup. Wake Forest’s top five players – Young, No. 33 Eric Bae, No. 36 Kengo Aoshima, No. 85 Eugenio Chacarra and No. 91 Alex Fitzpatrick – are ranked among the NCAA’s top 100 players, making them a legitimate national title contender. Best of all for tradition-rich Wake, Young is the only senior of the bunch. Speaking of Young, he will enter the Myrtle Beach Regional as one of the nation’s hottest players, having won medalist honors at three of his last five tournaments. Among those wins was a triumph at the General Hackler Championship, an event held at the Dunes Club in Myrtle Beach.
Local Knowledge: Wake Forest
In addition to having the highest-ranked team in the field, Wake Forest should enjoy the benefit of some local knowledge. Deacons junior Eric Bae competed in the inaugural Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship in 2016, finishing 14th in a tournament held at, you guessed it, TPC Myrtle Beach. Wake Forest alum Lanny Wadkins, a 21-time winner on the PGA Tour and the 1977 PGA Championship winner, co-designed TPC Myrtle Beach with Tom Fazio.
The Dark Horse Is …
Just as they shocked many people with their surprising run to the NCAA men’s basketball championship game, keep an eye on Texas Tech to win the regional. The Red Raiders have a pair of victories this spring – defeating a 21-team field for the Desert Classic title and a triumph at the El Macero Classic – and three top 100 players. Junior Sandy Scott, ranked 13th in the nation, won medalist honors at the El Macero event, and the native of Nairn, Scotland, expects to contend every time he tees it up.
Dreams Do Come True
While everyone teeing it up at the Myrtle Beach Regional will be focused on advancing to the NCAA Championship, they also harbor dreams of one day playing on the PGA Tour, and TPC Myrtle Beach has already helped launch the career of one golf superstar. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson once called the course home, and his namesake golf school is based at TPC Myrtle Beach. Johnson, who was at TPC for his junior tournament and the opening of the learning center at the Dustin Johnson Golf School in March, practiced at the course daily as a member of the Coastal Carolina golf team. Johnson also has a host of memorabilia on display in the clubhouse, a reminder to Myrtle Beach Regional competitors what is possible in the short and long term.
Travel East, Young Man
Eight of the 14 teams in the regional reside West of the Mississippi and only three teams (Wake Forest, VCU and Robert Morris) are located in the Eastern Time Zone. With a pair of teams from California and Oregon, schools will accumulate plenty of frequent flier miles en route to Myrtle Beach.