CCU takes fifth at Regional to qualify for NCAA tourney

The Coastal Carolina men’s golf team shot a 9-over par 297 in the final round of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional to place fifth place and advance to the NCAA Championships, May 28-June 2 at The Capital City Club, Crabapple Course in Atlanta.

SEC powers Alabama, Florida, LSU and Tennessee will join Coastal at the NCAA Championship after claiming the top four qualifying spots.

This will mark Coastal’s first team appearance at the NCAA Championship since finishing fifth at the 2007 Championship and fourth appearance overall (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2013). However, this will mark the second appearance at the Championship for CCU senior Sebastian Soderberg, who qualified as an individual in 2011.

“It’s a great feeling for our team and a testament to how hard they worked all year,” said Director of Golf Allen Terrell. “Being one of the top 30 teams in the country to finish the year has been our goal since the start of the season. We are looking forward to competing for the national championship in Atlanta.”

Peter Valalsek paced the Chanticleers. The sophomore carded a career-low 69 – tying for the second-best round of the day – and tied for sixth individually with a 2-over par 218 (75-74-69).

“I couldn’t be more proud of Peter and the way he played over these last three days,” Terrell said. “He really struggled finishing all year and it has been something he has been working hard to remedy. For him to have his best finish when the season was really on the line was incredible.”

Coastal Carolina was in seventh place at one point after it finished its final round, but playing partner Houston and South Alabama, which was in the group after Coastal, struggled down the stretch to lift the Chanticleers into the NCAA Championship. In fact, South Alabama posted two double bogeys and two bogeys on the final hole, which played the second-hardest hole on the course Saturday. The 16th hole was the third-hardest hole and the Jaguars were 2-over as a team over the final three holes (16-18). Houston played the final three holes at 8-over par as a team.

However, Coastal did not solely rely on the misfortune of South Alabama and Houston. The Chants played the final three holes at 1-under par, including a birdie from Valasek on the 18th, which proved to be the difference in the two-stroke advantage.

“It was having a good day and it seemed to be getting better as the day continued,: Valasek said. “My final birdie putt on 18 was the culmination of all the hard work I, and the team, have put in this season to get to this point.”

Valasek was fourth in the field in par 5 scoring, averaging 4.58 strokes and playing the par 5 at 5-under.He also tied for sixth with 37 pars over the three rounds. In his final round, Valasek birdies two of his first six holes. He did suffer his lone bogey on the par 4 ninth to make the turn at 1-under par. However, he birdied the par 5 11th hole and, after six straight pars, birdied the crucial 18th hole.

Andrew Dorn bounced back from his second-round 80 to match his day one score of 3-over 75. The sophomore and teammate Roberto Ballesteros ranked 10th in the tied with 10 birdies.  Dorn had five of his 10 birdies in the final round, including three over his final nine holes. Dorn tied for 40th with a 54-hole score of 230 (75-80-75).

Ballesteros tied for 34th (80-72-76=228). The junior had four of his 10 birdies Saturday and was 4-over at the turn. Like Dorn, Ballesteros had three birdies on the back nine to finish the inward nine at even par.

Soderberg recorded a top 20 finish despite his 77 in the final round. The senior, ranked 34th in the nation, tied for 17th with an 8-over 224 (75-72-77). He was stead through the event, having nothing over a bogey over 54 holes. In fact, he had 30 pars, 16 bogeys and eight birdies. In the final round, Soderberg had three birdies, including one on the difficult 18th hole.

Ben Wheeler tied for 45th. The sophomore shot 77 in each round for a total of 15-over par 231. While his final round was a 77, overall he played his most consistent round, posting 14 pars with three bogeys and a double bogey.

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