NCAA golf: Utah punches ticket to championship rounds, BYU edged out in playoff

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AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Utah men's golf team is beginning to figure out how to make national tournament appearances a regular consideration.

The Utes punched their ticket to the NCAA championships for the second time in three seasons by shooting 2-under-par in the final round, while BYU's bid for a 33rd national championship appearance fell short in a tiebreaker playoff Wednesday at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas.

Texas, the regional host that won four of the top-seven individual spots including medalist Christiaan Maas, won the regional with a three-day total of 27-under 825. Tennessee was second at 841, followed by Notre Dame (846).

UNC Greensboro's Kelvin Hernandez shot 68 in the final round to clinch the regional's individual bid at 6-under 207 — tied for third.

"I'm so impressed by our freshmen," Utah coach Garrett Clegg said in a school release. "They were amazing today and our entire team, 1-through-5, was incredible this week. I love these guys and for their hard work to be rewarded like this is so incredible. I'm extremely excited for nationals and look forward to getting these boys ready to go."

After spending the first two rounds inside the top five, BYU shot 292 on the final day of the regional to drop to a two-way tie for fifth with Wake Forest with a three-day total of 2-over-par 854.

That sent the Cougars to a team playoff with the Demon Deacons, with each scoring member of the rotation teeing off on a different hole between the 10th and 14th hole of the 7,412-yard, par-71 course in northwest Austin.

Wake Forest clinched the final bid in the regional, clinching the playoff with a 1-under finish in the team-wide extra-hole session.

Zac Jones led BYU with a three-day total of 2-under 211, tied for ninth individually, and younger brother Cooper Jones was tied for 15th at even-par 213. Peter Kim added a top-25 finish at 1-over 214 for the Cougars.

The finish was less dramatic for Utah, which advanced to the NCAA championships at Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California for the eighth time in program history.

It's the first time the Utes have reached the championship round twice in three seasons in more than 70 years, since a run of three consecutive appearances from 1948-50.

Propelled by a 3-under 68 from freshman Gabriel Palacios, who leaped over 25 golfers to finish tied for 12th individually, the Utes shot 2-under 282 in the final round to clinch the No. 4 spot in the field and a team berth at collegiate nationals.

Sergio Jimenez finished tied for 21st with an even-par 214, and Javier Barcos was two shots back at T26, and Braxton Watts shot 71 in the final round to finish at 4-over 217 and a tie for 35th.

The NCAA championships will begin May 22.


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