BRYAN, Texas -- Despite medalist honors for Russell Henley -- and a 1-under on the final day from former Deerfield-Windsor star T.J. Mitchell -- the Georgia men's golf team fell short in its national title quest at the NCAA South Central Regional Saturday at the Traditions Club.
Needing a Top 5 finish to advance to next month's NCAA Championship, the 14th-ranked Bulldogs made a spirited comeback to force a tie for fifth and a playoff with Baylor for the final spot. However, Baylor emerged victorious from the playoff as the 10 players from the two teams replayed the par-4 18th. Georgia, which entered the final round 11 shots out of fifth place, shot a 4-under 284 in regulation to climb the leaderboard.
Henley will carry the banner for the Bulldogs at the NCAAs as he advanced as an individual. The nation's top-ranked player fired a 3-under 69 on Saturday to finish at 9-under 207. Henley, one of the three finalists for the Ben Hogan Award, which will be handed out Monday, has won four tournaments this season, including each of the last two.
"No question, this is a bittersweet day for us," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "We are all very proud of Russell. He has been sensational all season and has really carried us on his back. At the same time, we're disappointed that we are not moving on as a team. We made a great comeback to force the playoff, and I am proud of the guys for that, but we just ran out of steam."
Junior Harris English and Mitchell, a freshman, followed Henley with 1-under 71s on Saturday, while freshman Bryden Macpherson signed for a 1-over 73 and junior Rob Bennett had a 4-over 76. English wound up at 4-over 220, followed by Macpherson at 5-over 221, Mitchell at 6-over 222 and Bennett at 12-over 228.
Georgia made its 21st appearance in a Regional since the NCAA went to that format for the 1989 season. The Bulldogs had advanced to the NCAAs 12 straight years and 15 times overall in that span.
Henley will begin play in the NCAAs June 1 and will be eligible to compete for the individual title in 54 holes.
After three days of stroke play, the top eight teams will advance to match play to determine the team champion.