North Texas was in perfect position to roll through the NCAA West Regional and into the final rounds of the national tournament a year ago.
The experience is one that could pay dividends for the Mean Green starting today when it begins play in the Bowling Green Regional with a spot in the national finals again on the line.
UNT is ranked 26th nationally by Golfstat.com and is the fifth seed in the 14-team regional that will take place at The Club at Olde Stone golf course in Bowling Green, Ky.
The top five teams in the three-round regional tournament will advance to the finals May 29 through June 3 at Rivera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
UNT was in position to advance out of the West Regional a year ago. The Mean Green was in fourth place after the first round, but stumbled down the stretch and finished ninth.
“It definitely helps to have been there,” UNT coach Brad Stracke said. “These guys know what to expect. Four of the five guys played in the regional last year and know what is coming. There will be no surprises. That helps a lot with their mental game going into the tournament.”
UCLA is the top seed in the regional, while Arkansas, Texas A&M and Clemson are also ranked in front of UNT.
UNT finished second, one shot behind Arkansas, at The Woodlands All-American Intercollegiate earlier this year. The Mean Green finished ahead of Texas A&M and Clemson in the tournament.
Curtis Donahoe finished second in the individual standings at the tournament with a 9-under 207. The junior is just one of several veterans in UNT’s lineup.
Freshman Jason Roets is the only player UNT will count on this week who did not play in the regional last season.
UNT’s veteran lineup helped the Mean Green win the Sun Belt Conference title in its last tournament.
Junior Ty Spinella won the individual conference title at 2-under 214 and was one of three UNT players to be named to the All-Sun Belt team, joining Rodolfo Cazaubon and Carlos Ortiz.
The Mean Green’s performance in the event has given the team confidence heading into the regional.
“I feel good about our chances,” Stracke said. “We played against a lot of these teams during the season. In Houston we played against A&M, Clemson and Arkansas, the top seeds in the field, finished second and only lost by a shot. The guys and myself feel really good about the regional.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .