Clarksville, TN – With two days of practice behind it in the intense Arizona heat, Austin Peay State University’s golf team is set to challenge for an NCAA Regional title when the Govs tee off at 8:25am (PT), Thursday at the ASU Karsten Golf Course on the Arizona State campus in the three-day event.
The 12th-seeded Governors, enjoying one of the best seasons in APSU history, have captured six tourney titles in 11 events this season, including the Ohio Valley Conference tourney title at April’s end. Along the way the Governors have knocked off multiple Top 100 teams, including a trio of Top 50 clubs.
“They are excited about the experience and are excited about playing some of these well-known schools around the country and see what we can do,” APSU coach Kirk Kayden said. “They have been doing that all year. They just go about their business—they had a good preparation day today and are ready to go.
“We talked briefly when we got out here about just doing the same things we have been doing all year. We don’t have to change how we do things because of what names are on the golf bags.”
The Governors got a full view and sounds of Karsten, Wednesday. The course is surrounded by the ASU campus, with the football stadium in full view, along with multiple streets. As a result, traffic sounds are well within earshot, but only if they are not being drowned out by the airplanes flying over—the course is below both the landing and take-off patterns of Sky Harbor Airport, with flights seemingly taking off every minute during the morning practice.
The Governors found out the course is a little different than what they might have expected, especially after playing Grayhawk Golf Course, Tuesday.
“It’s obvious a very difficult golf course, as you would expect it to be with it being an NCAA (tourney) course,” Kayden said. “We have played difficult courses all year so they need to adjust to it.
“The positive thing it is more of a traditional-style look golf course. We were expecting with more of a desert feel and it definitely does not have that out here.”
The par-70, 7,036-yard course definitely has some demanding holes that will test the teams both mentally and physically, with mounds and pot bunkers adoring the layout. Holes No. 9 and 18 along with Nos. 5 and 16 could play large part in each teams scores during the three days. The green on 16 is just beyond water.
“Those four holes are key,” Kayden said. “If we can those holes well and smart, I think we will be fine on the rest of them. If we are willing to take pars and, at worse bogeys, we will be fine and able to compete.”
Kayden also is cognizant heat could be a factor by Saturday’s end.
”I think the guys were still adjusting to the jet lag and time change,” Kayden said. “But that is why we took that extra day to get out here.
“But once the competition starts, these guys start to turn it up and that has been a positive for us. I think they are going to be ready.”
UCLA is the No. 1 seed in field, followed by Duke, Georgia, Texas A&M, Clemson, Vanderbilt, UCF, North Carolina, host Arizona State, Kennesaw State, Arizona, the Governors, New Mexico State and Lehigh. The Govs will be paired with Kennesaw State and Arizona, Thursday. The top five teams from each of the six regionals will advance to the NCAA championship, May 28th – June 2nd, at the Capital City Club/Crabapple Course in Atlanta.