KOHLER, Wis. (Seminoles.com) – Junior Josh Lee saved his career-low NCAA postseason score for an opportune time, shooting a final-round 69 at the Kohler Regional to guide second-seeded Florida State Men’s Golf to its fifth consecutive NCAA Championship bid on Wednesday at Blackwolf Run Meadow Valley Course.
Lee’s performance was big for the Seminoles, as scores were noticeably lower on Wednesday with teams in contention such as Baylor (-14), Arkansas (-7) and Idaho (-6) nipping at FSU’s heels all day. The Seminoles did not fold when the pressure became greater to finish among the low five, shooting 4-under for the day and finishing 6-under overall (284-290-284).
“Josh has been on the verge of playing some good golf and today he really came through,” FSU head coach Trey Jones said. “He had a good one going yesterday and let it get away. The more confident he gets the more you will see performances like today. We talked about a team effort last night and having the first two off shoot 3 and 1 under was crucial.”
FSU finished tied for fourth, while top-seeded Illinois (-11 overall) took home the NCAA Kohler Regional title. Florida (-7) and Arkansas (-7) tied for second, while FSU (-6) and Baylor (-6) were equal. All five programs advance to next week’s NCAA Championship that runs from May 27-June 1 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore.
Lee, who hails from Orange Park, Fla., had played in nine NCAA postseason rounds entering Wednesday. He sparked the Seminoles and did his best to provide a cushion on the front nine, shooting a 32 with five birdies which included shooting under par on four of his first five holes played. On the back nine, Lee played it safe and delivered eight pars along with a bogey to cap a stellar final round.
Lee finishes the NCAA Regional shooting 1-under overall (72-74-69), tying for 12th.
Getting better as the regional went on was freshman Corey Carlson, who shot a 1-under 71 on Wednesday. Over his three rounds he got progressively better by one stroke (73-72-71), shooting even par for the tournament to tie for 21st. His back-nine 35 was needed, especially his birdie on the par-5 16th hole as FSU continued to jockey for low-five position.
FSU’s fifth consecutive NCAA Championship bid is its longest streak of reaching the finals since doing it eight times from 1976-83. In four of the last six seasons, FSU has finished in the Top 11 of the NCAA Championship, including a third-place spot in 2010.
Redshirt junior Cristobal Del Solar shot even-par on Wednesday and finished 1-under (71-72-72) overall, tying for 12th. He recorded an important birdie on the par-3 15th hole that was 196 yards out, and tied for sixth among all individuals in par 3 scoring at even par. The All-ACC Team representative is expected to compete in his third consecutive NCAA Championship.
Del Solar also finished first among all competitors with 42 pars, a notable feat in a regional that had cooler weather conditions.
Senior Hank Lebioda also shot even par in the final round, producing three birdies along with two bogeys. Like Carlson, Lebioda took advantage of the par-5 16th hole for a big birdie late in the round. He finished tied for 12th in the individual field. The ACC Player of the Year helped himself in par 5 scoring in the regional, shooting 7-under to tie for second overall.
Fellow senior Rowin Caron added a 76 in the final and shot 4-over for the regional.
Next week’s NCAA Championship includes four rounds of 18-hole stroke play from Friday, May 27-Monday, May 30. The top eight teams out of stroke play will compete in match play from May 31-June 1, with the quarterfinals and semifinals taking place on that Tuesday and the match play finals wrapping up on Wednesday.