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Eagles earn at-large bid, trip to Georgia Tech regional

            The players spent the last couple of weeks speculating on Georgia Southern’s chances of an at-large bid to the NCAA golf regionals.

            For Larry Mays, it was just another day at the office.

            The GSU coach, who has led the Eagles to a Division I regional appearance eight times in the last 10 years, never had any doubt.

“Usually No. 68 through 70 are going to be bubble teams – this year it was 70 – so if you’re ranked in the top 70, you were in,” said Mays. “In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been ranked between 56 and 59, so I kept telling them we were in. You know, some of them get a little nervous, but I’ve had closer years, we’ll put it that way. One of the first couple of years here, we were the last team to get in. I was about 100-percent confident we were getting in.”

No. 10 seed Georgia Southern will head to Alpharetta to participate in the Georgia Tech regional at the Capital City Club May 20-22.

“Some of us kind of wanted to go to San Diego or Washington, some of the seniors, to have one last long road trip,” said GSU senior Spencer Fulford. “Atlanta’s going to work out because we won’t have jet lag or anything like that.

“Really we were just happy to hear our name called. I was maybe a little skeptical that we were going to get in, but coach reassured us and he was right. We got in.”

Host school and No. 16-ranked Georgia Tech, the third seed in the field, isn’t the only big name participating in the field. The No. 1 squad in the nation, Oklahoma State will be there, as well as three others from the Top 25.

“Oklahoma State’s probably the premier program in all of college golf,” said Mays. “They haven’t had as good a year as they have in past, but they’ll still be a force to reckon with.”

The five lowest team scores after the three-day event – 30 teams in all from the six regionals – will advance to the finals at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn. June 1-6.

Furman, the automatic qualifier from the Southern Conference who beat out Georgia Southern for the 2010 conference title, will join GSU in Alpharetta as the No. 8 seed, while fellow SoCon member Chattanooga will be the No. 7 seed in the San Diego regional hosted by San Diego State.

Garrett Medeiros and Mark Joye of Wofford will participate in the Georgia Tech regional as individuals.

Team participants for the Eagles will be Fulford, Ryan Zebroske and Matt Deal, all seniors, along with junior Logan Blondell and redshirt freshman Florian Sander.

“I’m pretty happy with the way we progressed all spring, and really we did it with four new faces,” Mays said. “We lost four out of our six from the last year. Even though some of the guys have been around the program for a while, they haven’t played a lot. To do it with some new faces was a lot of fun.”

Zebroske, who played his high school golf at Milton, is the only member of the team who has previously played the Alpharetta course.

No. 1 seed and defending national champion Texas A&M will host a regional in College Station, Texas in which Georgia claimed the No. 3 seed.

Augusta State claimed the No. 3 seed at the San Diego regional, while Georgia State will send Tom Sherreard to Alpharetta.

Last year, GSU finished 10th in the Sorrento, Fla. Regional hosted by Central Florida.

The Eagles last advanced to the NCAA championship round in 2005. That season, Georgia won the team national championship, Georgia Tech placed second, Augusta State finished 10th and Georgia Southern and Georgia State tied for 13th.


Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.