The Thomas University Men’s Golf will make their first ever appearance at the NAIA Men’s Golf National Tournament. The 63rd annual event will take place at the LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., May 13-16.
TU enters the field as the 2014 Sun Conference Tournament Champion. The TSC championship was the first ever in the history of the program. Thomas shot a remarkable 868 over the three rounds of action, bringing home the title by 10 strokes. TSC Player of the Year, senior Sam Jackson, led the way for the Night Hawks as the tournament’s low medalist after finishing five under par with a 211 (73-66-72).
Thomas, along with California State University – San Marcos and Embry-Riddle University (Ariz.), will begin play in Tuesday’s afternoon session teeing off on hole No. 1 at 12 p.m. On day two, the three teams will tee-off from hole No. 10 at 7:30 a.m.
The 156-player field consists of 22 automatic qualifying teams, which won or finished runner-up in their respective conference, independent or unaffiliated group tournament, six at-large berths, Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (host berth) and 11 individual qualifiers. At-large teams were determined using the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released yesterday.
Two-time defending national champion Oklahoma City highlights a field that includes seven teams that finished in the top 10 at last year’s championships. The Stars, who never trailed during last year’s event en route to an unprecedented 28-stroke victory, were the first team to repeat as national champions since winning back-to-back crowns in 2006 and 2007. In total, Oklahoma City, which earned an at-large berth into this year’s championships field, owns an NAIA-best nine men’s golf championships.
The other returning top 10 teams are: Bellevue (Neb.), Cal State San Marcos, Faulkner (Ala.), Grand View (Iowa), Johnson & Wales (Fla.) and Texas Wesleyan.
The Night Hawks golf teams first ever appearance, is only the third ever appearance at a NAIA National Championship by a TU men’s team after men’s soccer made their first ever appearance at a National Tournament in November of 2013 and men’s swimming attended the tourney in March. It also marks the first time ever that TU has sent three teams to National Championships in the same year.