FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas men’s golf team got sent to a neighboring state to start the NCAA postseason, but they won’t be heading west as been the case in recent years.
The No. 22 Razorbacks were sent East as the No. 4 seed at the NCAA Kingston Springs (Tenn.) Regional, which will be held at The Golf Club of Tennessee in suburban Nashville.
“I feel like our team has really played well the past few tournaments and I’m looking forward to getting through finals and getting some work in next week,” Arkansas coach Brad McMakin said. “It’s exciting to go to Tennessee.
“I like our draw. I thought we got a real fair draw this year and we talked a little bit earlier we’ve got a zoysia grass course like we play on at The Blessings.”
Arkansas, the SEC runner-up two weeks ago, will be joined at the regional by SEC champion and No. 13 Vanderbilt, which downed the defending SEC champion Razorbacks 3-2 in the match play final at Sea Island (Ga.) Golf Club. Arkansas junior Segundo Oliva Pinto won medalist honors and the Razorbacks downed LSU and Texas A&M en route to the final.
“We’re in a great spot,” Arkansas super senior William Buhl said. “Obviously Segundo won SEC individual, which is a huge accomplishment winning in that field. And the confidence buzz around the team is very high. Getting back to the championship in the SEC finals is a huge deal and very hard to accomplish.”
The top seed in Kingston Springs, Tenn., will be No. 3 Clemson, followed by No. 10 North Carolina State, the Commodores, the Razorbacks and No. 25 San Diego State.
The top five teams from each of the six NCAA regionals will comprise the 30-team field at the NCAA championships, scheduled for May 28-June 2 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. The top individual finisher from non-advancing teams at each regional will also play in the championships.
The Razorbacks will be competing in their 13th consecutive NCAA regional under McMakin, who is in his 15th year at the Hog helm.
“I feel great,” McMakin said of the team’s state of mind after SECs. “We played in the final group the last couple of tournaments. We didn’t finish the tournaments off [well], but when you play SEC-schedule fields every week and you’re in the final group it definitely gives the team a lot of confidence. I just feel like their games are better.”
The remainder of the 13-team field is Virginia, UNC-Charlotte, Kent State, Texas-San Antonio, Houston, Loyola (Md.), UConn and Iona.
The Razorbacks have played in 27 NCAA regionals since the format was adopted in 1989 and advanced to the NCAA championships 17 times.
Arkansas did not qualify for the 2019 NCAA championships at Blessings after winning the SEC title. The Razorbacks’ last trip to the NCAA championships came in 2018 following a tie for fourth place at the NCAA Norman (Okla.) Regional.