| After a season that included three tournament wins and facing some of the top programs in the country, the 2011 Middle Tennessee men's golf team was rewarded on Monday with an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals. It marks the fourth straight year the Blue Raiders have advanced to NCAA play.
Middle Tennessee will be one of 13 teams participating in the regional at The Farms Golf Club in San Diego, Calif., hosted by the University of San Diego May 19-21. The low five teams from six regionals will advance to the NCAA National Championships at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Oklahoma May 31 - June 5.
Middle Tennessee's spot among the nation's top 81 teams came during the last announced regional by the Men's Golf Selection Committee's Conference Call for the second year in a row. The Blue Raiders will be the No. 8 seed in a field that includes No. 2 ranked UCLA, No. 11 ranked Texas, No. 15 ranked USC, No. 23 ranked San Diego, and 26th ranked Ohio State. It is the second highest seed for the Blue Raiders in school history.
It is the fifth NCAA berth in program history and the third as an at-large. The Blue Raiders also made NCAA Regional appearances in 2000, 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2008, Middle Tennessee advanced all the way to the NCAA Championships where it finished 15th nationally.
Head Coach Whit Turnbow believed Middle Tennessee's body of work was easily strong enough to gain an at-large berth after the team failed to win the Sun Belt Conference. Middle Tennessee is ranked No. 47 nationally and owns an overall record of 104-42, including an impressive mark of 68-13 in the spring. "We knew our name would be called," said Turnbow. "We are going to San Diego and it's a course we are familiar with because it's where we won the Calloway Match Play event a couple years ago. It will probably be a little warmer out there so we will adjust our practices a little but we will be ready."
The Blue Raiders' lineup will be led by senior Jason Millard, a three-time all-conference performer. Millard, who ranks fourth nationally with a 70.65 scoring average, is the first player in school history to compete in four NCAA Regionals.
"We are very excited about the opportunity and to go four years in a row is great for our program," said Millard. "I have actually played the course and really like it so it should be a lot of fun."
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The Farms Golf Club - San Diego, California
8. Middle Tennessee