UGA senior and Albany native T.J. Mitchell leads the Bulldogs into the NCAA Regionals today in Tempe, Ariz., where UGA will look to qualify for nationals.
TEMPE, Ariz. — Led by senior and Albany native T.J. Mitchell, the 16th-ranked Georgia men's golf team will return to action this week in the NCAA Tempe Regional in an attempt to return to the NCAA Championship.
The Tempe Regional will be played today through Saturday at the ASU Karsten Golf Course. The top five teams from each of the six national regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships, which will be held May 28-June 2 at the Capital City Club's Crabapple Course in Alpharetta.
Between Mitchell’s team-leading 72.07 average and the return of injured junior Joey Garber, the Bulldogs look like one of the favorites to emerge from the pack at Regionals and advance back to the Big Dance.
“We all know what's on the line and we all know what it takes,” Garber told the UGA school website. “We just have to stay patient. There are a lot of good teams in our regional and we cannot give up any strokes. We have to play solid tee to green and not throw anything away.”
The third-seeded Bulldogs will compete against a field that features several Division I heavyweights, including UCLA, Duke, Texas A&M, Clemson, Vanderbilt, Central Florida, North Carolina, Arizona State, Kennesaw State, Arizona, Austin Peay, New Mexico State and Lehigh.
Georgia is making its 24th appearance since the NCAA went to the Regionals format for the 1989 season and the Bulldogs have advanced to the NCAAs 16 times in the previous 23 campaigns.
Under head coach Chris Haack, the Bulldogs have been invited to 17 straight Regionals, moving on to the NCAAs 14 of the previous 16 seasons.
The Bulldogs will use a lineup of Mitchell — a former Albany Herald Player of the Year while at Deerfield — juniors Garber and Keith Mitchell, sophomore Nicholas Reach and freshman Lee McCoy. The Tempe Regional will be Garber's first action since October as he has been sidelined following shoulder surgery.
“Getting Joey back is big for us,” Haack said. “He's got a lot of experience and knows what this time of year is all about. Yes, he's coming off an injury, but he's been practicing hard and competing. If what I've seen the last few weeks is any indication, he's going to give us a boost.”
The three-day forecast for Tempe is brutal for golf
It shows temperatures at 100 degrees today, 95 on Friday and finally cooling down a little to 92 on Saturday.
“We had to pull the shorts back out,” Haack said with a laugh. “We're not going to need our rain suits or our pullovers.”