May 22, 2010
SOUTH BEND, Ind. –
The Florida State men’s golf team – led by individual medalist Drew Kittleson — advanced to the NCAA Championship finals with a second place finish at the NCAA Central Region Championship on the Warren Course at the University Notre Dame as play in the event concluded Saturday. The Seminoles advanced to the NCAA Championship finals for the first time since 2007, for the second time under head coach Trey Jones and for the 19th time in school history since making their first appearance in 1956. The Championship finals will be played at the Honors Course at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga June 1-4.
Kittleson was outstanding throughout the three round tournament with scores of 69-67-68 for a six under par total of 204. He was followed in the individual standings by sophomore Wesley Graham, who finished in a tie for second in the individual standings with scores of 67-69-70 for a five under par score of 205. Freshman Michael Hebert came within one stroke of tying the school record for lowest single round score with a six under par score of 64 in the final round and finished in a tie for 11th place with a one under par total of 209.
“I am really proud of our guys,” said head coach Trey Jones. “Our motto all week was play to win and we did that. From start to finish that was our best tournament of the year. Playing the final two rounds on this course at nine under par is quite an accomplishment and is playing at a high level of golf. We had a great week of preparation prior to the tournament and I feel that was a key to us getting off to a good start on Thursday.”
The Seminoles established several school bests in advancing to the NCAA Championship finals including best team finish in a regional championship (second), best individual finish in a regional championship (Kittleson, first), best team score in a regional championship (834), best team score vs. par in a regional championship (plus four), number of individual scores in the 60’s in a regional championship (six), and lowest tournament score in a regional championship (204 by Kittleson).
The top five teams from the NCAA Central will travel to play in the NCAA Championship finals. The Seminoles will be joined at the Honors Course by Stanford (the regional champion), Florida, Duke and LSU. A total of 30 teams and six individuals from across the nation will play for team and individual championships in the finals round.
Kittleson (Scottsdale, Az.) was stellar throughout the 54-hole event and as he earned his second career victory with three scores in the 60’s. The win was Kittleson’s first outright victory as he finished in a tie for first place in the Inaugural GolfWeek Collegiate Challenge during the fall of 2009. Kittleson established personal best records for 36 hole score (136), tournament score (204) and tournament score vs. par (minus 6).
“I am very happy that I won the individual title at the regional but most importantly, I happy for our team,” said Kittleson. “That we get to continue playing and now have the chance to compete for a national championship is a great feeling. We have to play as well as we know we can play when we get to nationals and we will have a chance to do some great things for our program, our school and our coaching staff. The way we played this week just proved once again that we can compete with any team in the country. We should be a very confident team when we arrive in Tennessee for the finals.”
Kittleson’s first place finish was his best placing in three career regional appearances. He finished in a tie for 60th in the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship in 2009.
“Drew was solid all week,” said Jones. “I don’t think he was over par at any point in time. He drove the ball well and had his short game working – two things this course demands. Earning medalist honors at an NCAA regional championship is a great accomplishment.
Graham also continued his spring season upswing as he earned the best individual finish as a Seminole as he carded the best three round tournament score of his career. His score of 67 in the first round of the event also marked a career best for the sophomore who has played in 11 of the Seminoles’ events this year and who had helped the team to three tournament championships and five top two team finishes.
“It is always good when you have two players on the same team competing for the individual title,” said Graham. “Congratulations for Drew for the championship – he played lights out all week long. I feel like I played a solid three days of golf – I didn’t lose a ball throughout the entire week and that helped a lot. Coach Jones was really helpful to me this weekend; he helped me get around the course with some great shots. We are a confident group right now and are really excited to play as a team in the finals.”
Graham began the day off well for the Seminoles as he was one of two Seminoles who had to finish second round play before starting play in the final round. He birdied the two holes he had to play to complete his second round and then finished with an even par score of 70 in the third round. He round of 70 in the third round was his first round at par after carding scores of 67 and 68 in the first two rounds.
“Wes played his best tournament as a Seminole,” said Jones. I am confident that this performance will be another stepping stone in his young collegiate career. It was fun to watch two of our players competing for medalist honors – and neither of them backed down from the other.”
The day may have been stolen by a freshman – Hebert – who was not in the Seminoles’ starting line-up for the ACC Championship in late April. Hebert came within one stroke to tying Matt Savage’s school record of 63 in the spring 2009 Florida State Spring Break Invitational at the Don Veller Seminole Golf Course in Tallahassee.
“Today, I just went out there and played smart golf,” said Hebert. “I found the positive in every situation I put myself in on the golf course and it paid off.”
Hebert finished in a tie for 11th place in the individual standings to earn the third best finish of his career and the fourth top 15 finish of his career. He finished in a career best tied for seventh at the spring 2010 Gator Invitational.
“Mike was in control of himself and the golf ball all day today,” said Jones. A bogey free 64 shows what he is capable of. His composure and tempo did not change at all throughout the day and that is a testament to how much he has improved as a golfer.”
Florida State most recently finished in 13th place in the NCAA Championship finals in 2007. The Seminoles finished in a program best fourth place in the 1957 national finals and most recently finished in seventh place in the national finals in both 1987 and 1995. The trip to the national finals marks the third for Jones as a head coach; he guided Georgia State to a fifth place finish in the 2005 and the Seminoles to a 13th place finish in 2007.
Jones, the 2008 ACC Coach of the Year, has guided the Seminoles to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and into the national rankings in five of the last six seasons. The Seminoles are ranked No. 15 in the most recent national poll by GolfStat and have been ranked as high as No. 3 this year.
2010 NCAA Central Regional/May 20-22, 2010/Final FSU Results Warren Golf Course/South Bend, Ind./Par 70 2/14. Florida State 283 276 275 834 1. Drew Kittleson 69 67 68 204 T2. Wesley Graham 67 68 70 205 T11. Michael Hebert 72 73 74 209 T39. Brooks Koepka 75 68 73 216 T66. Seath Lauer 77 73 77 227
2010 NCAA Central Regional/May 20-22, 2010/Final Team Results Warren Golf Course/South Bend, Ind./Par 70 1. Stanford 830 T6. Iowa 848 2. Florida State 834 9. Indiana 850 3. Florida 838 10. Virginia Tech 855 4. Duke 839 11. NC State 859 5. LSU 847 12. Detroit Mercy 871 T6. Northwestern 848 13. Murray State 875 T6. Michigan 848 14. St. Francis (Pa.) 910