Greensboro, N.C. - Stetson senior Sam Ryder (Longwood, Fla.) is set to become the first Hatter in program history to play in the NCAA men's golf championships when he tees it up tomorrow morning in the East Regional at the Grandover Resort's East Course. The Atlantic Sun Conference tournament champion goes off the first tee at 10:10 am Thursday.
Ryder will be paired with Martin Liu of Atlantic 10 Conference champion George Washington and Kevin Ellison of Northeast Conference champion Mount St. Mary's in the penultimate trio of the day Thursday. 75 golfers representing 19 schools will compete for a spot in the NCAA Championships May 29-June 3 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Competing squads this weekend are Auburn, Charlotte, Duke, Florida, George Washington, Indiana, Lamar, Liberty, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mount St. Mary's, SMU, Texas Tech, Tulsa and UNLV. The other individuals besides Ryder are Leo Garcia (Sacred Heart), Casey O'Toole (Samford), Chris Russo (Cal State Northridge) and Vaita Guillaume (Campbell).
In order to advance, Ryder will need to be the low individual not on one of the top five of the 14 competing teams. Last month at Chateau Elan Resort in Braselton, Ga., Ryder became the second golfer in program history and first since Tom Creevy in 1991 to win the A-Sun tournament title. He shot 71 in the final round to finish three under par overall and rally for a two-stroke win over ETSU's Rhys Enoch and the North Florida duo of Kevin Aylwin and Sean Dale.
Ryder, a First Team All-Atlantic Sun honoree, has captured four tournament titles this season, including his A-Sun victory, en route to a 71.5 stroke average and 16 even par or better scores in 28 tournament rounds.
From his A-Sun Insider Blog diary detailing his experiences at the championships, Ryder reports: "Just finished up my practice round today with the rest of the individuals competing in the tournament. They're a good group of guys, and it was fun playing with them. It was kind of funny because it's almost like we're playing on a team together, even though we're all from different schools. The course is a good layout, with a lot of fun and demanding holes. It's in good shape - a little soggy because they've gotten a good bit of rain recently - but it should dry up a little bit before tomorrow."
Live Scoring for the tournament is available here: http://golfstatresults.com/public/index.cfm?tournament_id=3427
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