Friday May 2, 2008
AIKEN, S.C.--For the 17th consecutive season, USC Aiken head golf coach Michael Carlisle has his Pacers in the NCAA Tournament. Every year since joining the Peach Belt Conference and the NCAA Division II in 1992, USCA has been selected to the NCAA Championship field. Thirteen times, the Pacers have advanced past regional play to compete in the NCAA Championship Tournament.
USC Aiken, ranked fourth in the latest GolfWorld/Nike Top 25 poll, enters the Southeast Regional as the top seed. The three-time NCAA Division II National Champions will compete against seven other teams, and alongside eight squads in the Atlantic Regional, making up the Southeast/Atlantic Super Regional. The Pacers won the regional five consecutive times from 2002 to 2006 until Columbus State ended USCA’s unprecedented reign last year.
The 54-hole event is being hosted by Belmont Abbey College on May 5-7 and will be contested at the Point Lake and Golf Club, a 7,037 yard, par 72 layout in Mooresville, N.C. Nestled on the north shore of Lake Norman, the course was designed by Greg Norman with more than two-thirds of the holes playing directly along or over the water.
Each of the 10 regional winners will advance to the NCAA Championship on May 14-17 in Houston, Texas and hosted by Rice University. Aside from the two regional winners in Mooresville, the next three teams (regardless of region) will advance.
USC Aiken is coming off its first tournament win of 2007-08, a victory at the Peach Belt Conference Tournament at Houndslake Country Club in Aiken. The Pacers picked up their eighth conference crown, and their fifth in the last seven years, by carding a two-day total of five-over-par 869, 10 strokes ahead of runner-up Clayton State.
Joining the Pacers in the regional field are: Georgia College & State, Columbus State, Clayton State, Lander, Armstrong Atlantic State, Newberry, and Carson-Newman.
In 12 tournaments this season, USC Aiken has finished in top five on seven occasions highlighted by back-to-back third place finishes at Division I events, the Palmetto Intercollegiate and the Border Olympics.
Senior Jeff Goff and junior Roberto Diaz, 2008 All-Conference selections, will lead the Pacer contingent. The duo shared the team’s Most Valuable Player honors in 2007-08 and, along with freshman phenom J.P. Solis, were named to the Jack Nicklaus Award Watch List, an 18-member registry from which the 2008 Division II National Player of the Year will be chosen.
Sophomore Kevin Grady and freshman Ashley Smith will fill out the talented and deep Pacer line-up.
Under Carlisle, in his 18th season, the Pacers have three National Championships (2004, 2005, 2006), three runner-up finishes (1995, 1996, 1999), and placed fifth on four other occasions (1992-94, 2002). Carlisle earned three-straight Division II National Coach of the Year awards from 2004 to 2006