Playing in Missouri and entering the 15th hole at the The Club at Old Hawthorne (par-72/7,141 yards) in NCAA Men’s Golf Regional play Friday, the Arizona State squad was sitting at 7-over-par and its top golfer had two triple bogeys and three bogeys. The scoreboard showed ninth place. ASU had two eagles, but only nine birdies. A triple bogey and double bogey were already registered, and 17 other bogeys were scattered among each of the five players.
What a difference four holes makes.
Max Rottluff birdied the final four holes and finds himself tied for second at 6-under 138 (71-67) just one shot back of the lead, and sophomore Jon Rahm went 5-under in the final four holes (including his 22nd eagle of his career and 13th this season) after going 8-over through 14 as Arizona State is in fifth place with one round to play on Saturday.
The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams advance to the finals held May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Rottluff, a sophomore who entered the regional with a 72.52 stroke average in 21 career events, missed his career-best by one shot as he had a 66 in the second round of the Amer Ari Invitational on Feb. 7 this season. He will look to join a great group of Sun Devils who have earned NCAA regional titles that includes Jesper Kennegard (2009), Ben Alvarado (2007), Matt Jones (shared title in 2001), Jeff Quinney (1999) and Paul Casey (1998).
Broc Johnson shot 3-under 69, but 5-under in the final 10 holes that was jump started by an eagle at the 575-yard ninth hole. He also birdied three holes on the back nine. Rottluff played his final 10 holes at 7-under.
“Today was an absolute roller coaster. When you are back a bit and sitting in ninth, you have to decide if you are going to make a run or go home, and our guys responded,” said third-year head coach Tim Mickleson. “Tomorrow we play with teams right ahead (LSU) and behind (Iowa State) us, so we know exactly what we need to do. Jon’s determination to finish strong was vital.”
Barring collapses, Arkansas and Oklahoma State, both 17-under 559, have two spots sealed while host Missouri at 15-under 561 is a lock for the third. LSU (1-under 575), Arizona State (even-par 576), Iowa State (3-over 579), San Diego State (6-over 582) and Iowa (9-over 585) all are within 10 shots of each other, and two of those teams will earn the NCAA bids.
HISTORY: ASU has made the NCAA Championship in the 10 of the past 12 seasons and 28 of past 30.
THE TEAMS: There are 14 teams competing, and the top five will head to the NCAA Championships. The teams and seeds are: 1. Oklahoma State; 2. Virginia; 3. LSU; 4. Arkansas; 5. Arizona State; 6. Iowa; 7. San Diego State; 8. Missouri; 9. Iowa State; 10. Middle Tennessee State; 11. Ohio State; 12. Denver; 13. Loyola (Md.); 14. Bryant.
EAGLE UPDATE FOR RAHM: Jon Rahm now has 22 eagles in his 82-round career. Dating back to 1993-94 when Golfstat started tracking college statistics, only three other Sun Devils posted 15 eagles in their careers. While Rahm has 21 eagles in just 80 rounds, 2003 NCAA champion Alejandro Canizares had 15 eagles in 152 career rounds, while Scott Pinckey (121 rounds) and Niklas Lemke (151 rounds) had 16 eagles in their career.
MAX ROTTLUFF ROUND-BY-ROUND 2013-14
Amer Ari Invitational 71-66-69=206/-10/T-9
Prestige at PGA West 69-69-67=205/-8/2
Southern Highlands Masters 83-78-77=238/+22/T-69
ASU Thunderbird Invitational 70-70-69=209/-4/T-8
Seattle Redhawk Invite 75-74-76=225/+14/T-61
Western Intercollegiate 75-70-67=212/+2/T-18
Pac-12 Championship 78-68-77-75=298/+10/T-28
SUN DEVILS AS NCAA REGIONAL CHAMPIONS
Jesper Kennegard, 2009
Ben Alvarado, 2007
Matt Jones, 2001 (shared)
Jeff Quinney, 1999
Paul Casey, 1998