Frogs Ready for Next Step at NCAA Central Regional Championships
May 13, 2009
The TCU men's golf program will make its 20th consecutive NCAA Central Regional Championship appearance when the Horned Frogs tee-off on Thursday at the Karsten Creek Golf Course in Stillwater, Okla.
The Frogs are coming off their first-ever Mountain West Conference title and will head into the NCAA Central Regional Championships as the number-three seed. The Frogs - who enter the tournament ranked 17th in the country - will be joined by a pair of top-10 programs in second-ranked Oklahoma State and eighth-ranked Arkansas in addition to LSU, UT Chattanooga, Baylor, Pepperdine and Michigan State.
With their 20th consecutive NCAA Central Regional Championship berth, the Frogs became one of four programs in the country to reach 20 or more straight regional championships with the same head coach, joining Clemson, UNLV and Florida. The Frogs will be looking to make their first appearance at the NCAA National Championships since 2004, but will need to finish in the top-five of the regional tournament in order to qualify for nationals.
"To me, this is the most exciting time of the year," said head men's golf coach Bill Montigel. "There is always something special about this time of the year because this is a test of all of your hard work during the season. We are in an extremely competitive field with Oklahoma State and Arkansas, but I really believe that our guys are excited about the challenge."
The Frogs' lineup will look identical to the rotation that Montigel sent out to claim the Mountain West Conference championship in senior James Sacheck (The Woodlands, Texas | Zionsville H.S.), junior Travis Woolf (Fort Worth, Texas | Paschal H.S.), sophomore Tom Hoge (Fargo, N.D. | Fargo South H.S.) and newcomers Johan de Beer (Pretoria, South Africa | Pretoria Boys' H.S.) and Alexander Knappe (Brilon, Germany | Berufs H.S.).
"I really like our team and really like our chances at regionals. This is a very young team, but they are experienced in championship settings because we were in a lot of title contentions this past season. We won some tournaments, but more importantly, we put ourselves in position to have a chance to win tournaments and that's what you really want," said Montigel.
The backbone of the Frogs this season has been in the senior leadership of Sacheck, who was honored with All-Mountain West Conference accolades following the conference championships. The TCU team captain drained the winning putt in the first playoff hole to give the Frogs a victory over San Diego State at the Mountain West Conference Championships and has recorded nine top-20 finishes in 11 tournaments this past season.
"What can you say about James that hasn't already been said? He is one of the best leaders that I've ever had, and he is having a terrific season. He has a lot of regional experience and has played a lot of golf during his career here so I know that he will be able to help the guys get in the right mindset heading into regionals," said Montigel.
Sacheck wasn't the only Frog to earn All-Mountain West Conference accolades this season as he was joined on the team by de Beer, who became the first freshman since Colby Beckstrom in 2003 to earn all-conference laurels as a freshman. De Beer - who is coming off a third-place finish at the conference championships - has recorded six top-25 finishes with four of those showings coming in the top-10 to go along with one tournament title.
"Johan has done an incredible job this season, and he has such a bright future ahead of him. He really has been one of our most consistent golfers this season, and he is another guy who has been in title contention on the final day. He has one tournament title under his belt, but was in the hunt for a few others," said Montigel.
Another reason why the Frogs were able to claim the conference title came in the strong play of Hoge - who tied de Beer with a third-place finish at the Mountain West Conference Championships. The TCU sophomore recorded six top-20 finishes this season to go along with three top-10 showings and a tournament title at the Columbia Invitational during the fall.
"Hoge has really played well in the last few tournaments. It's good to see that he has gotten that confidence and focus back that he displayed earlier in the season, and he has really been on top of his game. He is an incredible talent and has been really putting it all together as the season has gone on," said Montigel.
Since joining the Frogs in the spring season, Knappe has continued to improve in every tournament as he has notched three top-25 finishes in eight tournaments this campaign, including a spot in the top-10 at the Morris Williams Intercollegiate. The TCU freshman is coming off a 20th-place at the Mountain West Conference Championships and helped the Frogs to claim the title with a 72 in the final round.
"Alexander has grown by leaps and bounds this season. He came to the country in January and never played any courses over here so everything was a learning experience for him. The good thing about Alexander has been that he has a lot of international experience and a lot of big time golf experience so he is used to playing under pressure," said Montigel.
Rounding out the lineup for the Frogs will come in Fort Worth talent Woolf, who notched a crucial 70 in the final round of the Mountain West Conference Championships to give TCU its first title since 2005. Woolf has recorded six top-20 finishes this season, including three showings in the top-10 and is coming off a 20th-place finish at the conference championships."
"If Travis doesn't have that great final round at conference then we probably don't win the championship. He really came on strong when we needed him the most, and it was great to see all of the hard work that he put in this season pay off. He is the only guy that we have who has played this course before so we'll be counting on him to help out the team about how to play it," said Montigel.
The first round of the NCAA Central Regional Championships will begin on Thursday with TCU being joined in the first group with the top-two seeds in Oklahoma State and Arkansas at the Karsten Creek Golf Course.
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