Trojan men compete in NCAA golf regional today
By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on May 1, 2006 2:06 PM
Competing in an NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history should be considered a special event for the Mount Olive men's golf team. But as far as head coach Chip Spiron is considered, this week's regional is just another golf tournament.
At least that's what he wants his team to think.
Mount Olive begins play today in the Atlantic/Southeast Super Regional of the 2006 NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championship. The three-round tournament takes place at Rocky River Golf Club in Concord.
While this year's regional marks the Trojans' first-ever NCAA Championship appearance as a team, sophomore Mick Moberg is competing in regionals for the second year in a row. Moberg and Eric Royster, who graduated last May, competed as individuals in last year's super regional.
"With last year's experience, Mick and I can give the rest of the team insight as to what to expect," said Spiron, who is in his fourth year as head coach. "Mostly, we just want the team to treat it like any other tournament."
"I think last year's experience at the regional will make this feel more like a normal tournament for me," said Moberg, who earned All-Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference second team honors this season.
Moberg enters the super regional with four top-five finishes in six tournaments this spring, including a first-place finish at the St. Andrews Spring Invitational and a fourth-place tie at the 2006 CVAC Men's Golf Championship.
Spiron, however, is quick to point out that this season's success has not been a one-man show.
"This year has been a true team effort," said Spiron. "We've had to change up the starting five throughout the season and everyone has contributed."
Joining Moberg in the Trojans' lineup at the super regional are juniors Chris Bitzenhofer and Cameron Phillips, sophomore Josh Harward and freshman Jonathan Greene. Bitzenhofer finished second behind Moberg at the St. Andrews Invitational.
The super regional marks the Trojans' second appearance this season at Rocky River Golf Club. Mount Olive posted a two-round score of 599 to finish fifth out of 17 teams at the Charlotte Shootout in October. The Trojans finished one shot out of a third-place tie.
"I think that will help our confidence that we've played here before and that we played well," said Spiron.
The super regional will almost feel like a repeat of the CVAC Championship. Mount Olive, ranked No. 5 in the Atlantic Region, is one of seven CVAC teams competing. Joining the Trojans are top-ranked and CVAC champion Coker, No. 2 Pfeiffer, No. 3 Belmont Abbey, No. 4 Barton, No. 6 St. Andrews and No. 7 Limestone. CIAA champion Fayetteville State is ranked No. 8.
Leading the eight Southeast Region teams is two-time defending national champion USC-Aiken, which won its fourth Peach Belt Conference title in the last five years. Peach Belt schools hold the Nos. 2-6 spots: Armstrong Atlantic State, Columbus State, UNC Pembroke, Georgia College and State and USC Upstate. South Atlantic Conference champion Lenoir-Rhyne is No. 7 and SAC member Newberry is No. 8.
A total of five Atlantic/Southeast Super Regional teams will earn berths in the national finals, which take place May 16-19 in Daniels, W. Va. The top Atlantic Region finisher and the top Southeast Region finisher will each advance to nationals. In addition, the next three teams with the lowest scores at the super regional -- regardless of region -- advance to the national finals.
The top individual whose team does not advance from the super regional will get to compete in the national finals.
Men's golf is one of four Mount Olive teams to advance to NCAA Championship play in 2005-06, a school single-season record. While Spiron wants his players to downplay the significance of this week's tournament, he is quick to take pride in what the team has accomplished.
"Competing in the NCAA Championship is a goal we have at the beginning of the season," said Spiron. "To accomplish that goal is a huge step for the program. Being the first Mount Olive men's golf team to get there and being part of a school record for most teams to advance to regionals in one season makes it especially exciting."
Notes: Live Stats of the Super Regional (courtesy Golfstat) will be available on the Mount Olive athletics web page at www.moc.edu/athletics. In addition, live audio recaps will be available on the MOC athletics web page at the top and bottom of each hour. Tee times have not yet been announced.
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