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Bound for Texas
GSU golf set for San Antonio regional
Georgia Southern's Will Evans hits out of trouble in the bunker on 7, getting the ball close enough for an easy birdie putt during second round of the Schenkel Invitational golf tournament at Forest Heights Country Club in this Saturday, March 15, 2014, file photo. Evans' hole in one at 6 helped the Eagles to a 4-stroke lead going into Sunday's final round. The Eagles won the Schenkel for the first time in program history. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/file

NCAA Golf Championship
What: Regional Round
When: May 15-17
Where: Briggs Ranch Golf Club, San Antonio, Texas — Hosted by UTSA

Seed/Team (qualification)

1. Georgia (at-large)
2. Central Florida (at-large)
3. UCLA (at-large)
4. Vanderbilt (at-large)
5. South Florida (at-large)
6. SMU (American Athletic)
7. Georgia Southern (Southern)
8. Georgia State (Sun Belt)
9. TCU (at-large)
10. Northwestern (at-large)
11. College of Charleston (Colonial)
12. VCU (Atlantic-10)
13. Columbia (Ivy)

    For the second consecutive season, Georgia Southern is off to the NCAA golf regionals.
    A year ago, the Eagles had to wait nervously for an at-large bid that came in on regional selection day. After winning the Southern Conference championship April 22, at the National Golf Club in Pinehurst, N.C., to lock up an automatic bid, things were much easier this time around.
    Players and coaching staff gathered at the Bennett-Ramsey Golf Center to watch as the regional fields were filled out Monday morning. From May 15-17, the Eagles will join 12 other schools at Briggs Ranch Golf Club in San Antonio, Texas to compete for a spot in the NCAA championships.
    “It’s been a great year,” GSU senior golfer Will Evans said. “We’ve always enjoyed going to the postseason. Going to Texas was one of my personal choices. I’ve been to (other regional sites in) Alabama and North Carolina. I’ve always wanted to see Texas and I can’t wait to go.”
    When the Eagles tee it up, the regional field will have no shortage of familiar faces.
    With so many teams from the southeastern portion of the country qualifying for the postseason, many will join Georgia Southern in San Antonio.
    The University of Georgia enters as the regional’s top seed while Central Florida, Vanderbilt, Georgia State and the College of Charleston also prepare to head west.
    The Eagles have squared off with all of these schools in previous tournaments over the last few years, giving next week an extra degree of comfort.
    “We feel good playing in this field,” GSU coach Larry Mays said. “We’ve played just about every team in the top 10 seeds of the field, outside of the two schools from Texas. Now, it’s all about what you do this week.
    “Our focus is to get our studies taken care of with finals this week and then go take care of business in Texas.”
    As would be expected from any postseason tournament, there is no shortage of talent that the Eagles will have to contend with. In a field that boasts six conference champions out of 13 schools competing, only the top five will advance to Hutchinson, KS for the national finals.
    While the competition is strong, it’s nothing that Georgia Southern hasn’t faced — and thrived on — already.
    In a field boasting nearly as many top-50 nationally ranked teams, GSU won its first Schenkel Invitational in mid-April. That victory led to solid showings at similarly talent-rich tournaments at Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt before culminating with a final-day charge to claim the SoCon title.
    “Both of our wins this year are in the spring,” Mays said. “Those two were in the two premier tournaments that we’ve played in. Hopefully we keep up that trend of playing our best in the most important tournaments.”

    Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.