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NCAA tourney time
031513 SCHENKEL 01 WEB
Georgia Southern's Scott Wolfes chips onto the 9th green during the first round of the Schenkel Invitational golf tournament at Forest Heights Country Club in this Friday, March 15, 2013, file photo. Wolfes finished the round with three-straight birdies to tie for the sixth best score of the day at -2. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

NCAA Columbia Regional
1. New Mexico
2. Stanford   
3. Auburn   
4. South Carolina   
5. Missouri
6. UNLV   
7. Texas Tech   
8. Chattanooga   
9. Georgia Southern   
10. San Francisco
11. Virginia
12. Charlotte
13. Valparaiso

    It’s become a yearly trip for the Georgia Southern Eagles — heading to a golf regional with a trip to the national championship on the line.
    This year is no different. The Eagles earned the No. 9 seed in the NCAA Columbus, Ohio Regional, which begins today. The 54-hole, 13-team event runs through Saturday at the Scarlet Course at the Ohio State University Golf Club.
    The top five teams from each of the six regionals will advance to the NCAA national championship.
    Georgia Southern made the field in Columbus with some familiar faces, like South Carolina, Virginia and Auburn, as well as Southern Conference champion Chattanooga, the No. 8 seed. The Eagles will also face No. 1 seed New Mexico, Stanford, Missouri, UNLV, Texas Tech, San Francisco, Charlotte and Valparaiso — not exactly “regional.”
    “It’s not like the old days — East, West and Central and everyone’s in their region — but there’s 81 teams left and they’re playing for 30 spots,” GSU coach Larry Mays said. “Everywhere you go, there’s good teams. You’ve got to go where they send you, and we’re just glad to have a tee time.”
    Besides, it’s not as if the opposition really matters, at this point.
    “Really, the only opponent is the course. We can’t tackle the other team, or heckle them to stop the way they’re playing,” Mays said with a laugh. “Our challenge is playing the golf course, and usually regionals and national championships are played on tough courses.”
    The Scarlet is no exception.
    The Eagles are accustomed to playing on Bermuda grass, but will play on bent grass greens and fairways this weekend.
    The surface features a taller rough and the holes are long on the nearly 7,500-foot, 18-hole, par-71 course.
    “It’s about grinding it out and making as many pars as you can,” Mays said. “There’s not too many birdie opportunities, but there’s a lot of bogeys. You’ve got to keep the doubles off the scorecard in order to have a chance to move through.”
    Georgia Southern features one of the nation’s top golfers, Scott Wolfes. The sophomore won two tournaments during the season and posted seven top-10 finishes. He is currently ranked No. 42 in the nation in the current Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
    Wolfes was named SoCon Golfer of the Year and has been named All-Conference each of the last two seasons.
    Other golfers in GSU’s lineup this weekend are expected to be Hayden Anderson and Charlie Martin, who each competed in 11 tournaments this season, Will Evans and Christian Humber.
    Georgia Southern has made it to an NCAA regional 10 times under Mays in the last 13 years, and 11 overall in program history. Mays has advanced the Eagles to the national championship round four times.
    The Eagles last advanced to the national championship in 2010. They placed fifth in the Georgia Tech regional to make the final field of 30.

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