May 5, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina junior J.T. Poston, the individual men's golf champion from the Southern Conference, was placed into the Raleigh, N.C., regional of the 2014 NCAA Men's Golf Championship to be held May 15-17 at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course. The announcement from the NCAA came Monday during the "Morning Drive" program on the Golf Channel, which will provide first-time coverage of the NCAA golf championships this spring.
Poston, who is ranked sixth in both the latest Golfstat Cup and Golfstat statistics, is the top-seeded individual competitor in the Raleigh regional, and is one of two Southern Conference individuals placed in Raleigh. He will be joined by Davidson's Richard Fountain. Combined, the SoCon put three teams into the national field with tournament champion Georgia Southern as the No. 7 seed in San Antonio, Texas regional; runner-up Chattanooga as an 11-seed in Eugene, Ore.; and UNCG as a No. 10 seed in the Auburn, Ala., regional.
The Raleigh regional includes eight, top 50 teams with 12 of the 13 schools holding top 100 rankings from Golfstat. Poston is one of four golfers ranked inside the Golfstat top 10 that will compete in the state capital. He is flanked by the No. 5 golfer, Ollie Schniederjans from Georgia Tech and No. 7 Cheng-Tsung Pan from the University of Washington, with Trevor Simsby of UW also in the field.
Poston will also see future SoCon-member, No. 29 Mercer, which won the automatic berth out of the Atlantic Sun Conference this year in Raleigh. East Tennessee State, another future league foe, made the field in the Eugene, Ore., regional.
Poston's selection to a NCAA regional is the second of his collegiate career - and just the second Catamount men's golfer to ever earn multiple individual berths into the field. Last season, the striker from Hickory, N.C., garnered an at-large bid into the post-season field, finishing tied for 38th overall at the Tallahassee, Fla., regional, earning Division I PING All-Region honors.
North Carolina State and the Arnold Palmer-designed, par-71, 7,213-yard Lonnie Poole Golf Course will host the regional. The course is located on 250 acres inside the "City of Oaks," Raleigh, N.C., and is dictated by large elevation changes as it meanders around large buffer areas that were left in place to protect streams and wetlands in the Neuse River watershed. The fairways are bermudagrass and flanked by thick rough, with a creeping bent grass mixture on the greens.
Poston has played the Lonnie Poole Golf Course three times as a collegian at the annual Wolfpack Intercollegiate, enjoying a trio of top six finishes in each of the first three trips with his worst finish as a freshman, a sixth-place tie (71.67). He finished fourth (208) this past fall with all three rounds at-or-below par with a 69.33 average (69-67-72). The third-year starter recorded his best finish in the 2012 Wolfpack Invitational event, shooting 214 over the three-day event, an average of 71.33 per round.
Entering the NCAA post-season, Poston, the 2014 SoCon Player of the Year and All-SoCon selection, has put together one of - if not the - greatest individual season in Western Carolina men's golf history. His seasonal scoring average through the conference championship event is 69.97 - nearly two full strokes ahead of the previous school benchmark. A combined 25 of his 30 seasonal rounds have been shot at even-par or better including 16 rounds in the 60s. He has won four tournament individual titles this year including most-recently the Southern Conference Men's Golf Championship, which earned his automatic berth into the field as an individual.
Poston was hot right out of the tee-box, matching the program's all-time best 54-hole score with a 205 (66-69-70) in the season-opening Golfweek Program Challenge, claiming the first individual medalist honors of his career - and the first of four medalist honors this season. He backed it up by winning the Cardinal Intercollegiate hosted by the University of Louisville.
Rounding out the fall portion of the schedule, Poston carded the program's all-time best, three-round score of 204 (69-68-67) in winning WCU's expanded home tournament - the Hummingbird Intercollegiate - hosted at the beautiful Country Club of Sapphire Valley.
All told, his worst finish through the 10 seasonal events has been an 11th-place tie at the Furman Intercollegiate back in late March.
Poston enters the 2014 post-season ranked atop WCU's individual career scoring charts with a stroke average of 71.93 through 94 career rounds, by-passing another Catamount great, Matt Cook (72.11 in 107 career rounds).
Six, 54-hole regional tournaments will be conducted May 15-17. Thirteen teams and 10 individuals not on those teams will compete at each of three regionals while the other three regionals will have 14 teams and five individuals not on those teams. The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams from each regional will advance to the finals.
The NCAA finals will be conducted May 23-28 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas. Wichita State is the host institution for the 2014 championships.