Cougars golf teams headed to NCAA Regionals

CAA/Jason A. Frizzelle College of Charleston's men's golf team won the Colonial Athletic Association championship in its first season of competition in the league.

The College of Charleston's golf programs - men and women - have never been as healthy as they are this season.

Both teams captured their respective Colonial Athletic Association crowns in their inaugural season in the new conference. It was the first time in school history that both squads won league championships in the same season.

On Monday, the men's team learned that they will be headed to the Southwest Regional in San Antonio, Texas, next weekend. The women already know their postseason plans as they travel down to Tallahassee, Fla., for the NCAA East Regional beginning Thursday.

"It's been a great season for both programs," said Jamie Futrell, who is in his 18th season as the Cougars women's head coach. "I'm so happy for men's team and (head coach) Mark (McEntire). I kind of felt like they'd have a pretty good chance to win the CAA this year. They had a great spring season. It's very gratifying to see both programs doing so well at the same time. I can't speak for Mark, but I feel like this is the best teams we've both had since I've been here."

This is the fourth NCAA Regional bid for the men's team, which earned berths in 2001, 2002 and 2003. The Cougars were automatic qualifiers in 2002 and received at-large bids in 2001 and 2003.

"It is great to have the opportunity go back to the postseason," said McEntire, who is in his ninth season with the Cougars. "We were excited to win our second-ever conference championship since 2002. We've played against some really good competition all season and I think that'll help us prepare for the regional."

Sixth-ranked Georgia is the top seed in a strong 13-team regional field which also includes No. 7 Central Florida, UCLA and No. 19 Vanderbilt.

College of Charleston will be the 11th seed and finished sixth or better this past season in six of its 10 tournaments, including a runner-up finish at the Navy Fall Classic and a third-place finish at The Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate tournament.

"We saw Georgia at our Ocean Course tournament in the fall and South Florida and Georgia Southern a few times already this season," McEntire said. "We've had a lot of success against teams we have already played against who are in the San Antonio Regional."

The top 5 teams and the low individual not on those teams from each of the six regional sites will then move on to the NCAA championship tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., from May 23-28.

"It's all about finishing in the top five," McEntire said.

The Cougars were last an NCAA tournament finalist in 2001, after finishing fourth at the NCAA Central Regional. They finished 13th out of the 30 teams which advanced to play for the national.

Meanwhile, the women's team is headed to Florida State beginning Thursday at the SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla.

This is the fourth NCAA Regional bid for the women's team, which earned berths in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010. They were automatic qualifiers in 2006 and 2014 and received at-large bids in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Third-ranked Duke will be the heavy favorites in the regional, along with sixth-ranked South Carolina, No. 7 Stanford, No. 12 Pepperdine, No. 13 Vanderbilt, No. 18 Central Florida, No. 23 Florida State, No. 24 Auburn and No. 25 Kentucky.

The eight teams from each regional and two individuals from each of the three regional sites will then compete for the team and individual championship at the Tulsa Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., from May 20-23.

"To get to the NCAA finals, you've got to be playing your best golf," Futrell said. "Playing good golf or average golf isn't going to get it done. I like our chances if we play the way we've been playing in the spring."