Men’s Golf completes 3-peat at C-USA Championship

TEXARKANA, Ark. – The Conference USA Men’s Golf Championship trophy is headed back to the ‘Boro, as the Blue Raiders successfully defended their 2018 and 2019 titles Thursday to complete the 3-peat.


Head Coach Mark McEntire‘s bunch put on a dominating performance in the match play finals, defeating North Texas 3-0 with comfortable leads in the two suspended matches as well.


“I’m just so happy for these guys to get to experience this,” McEntire exclaimed. “I’ve told a lot of people that this is the best team I’ve ever coached, and now they get to go showcase what they can do on a national level at NCAA Regionals and hopefully beyond.”


Senior Tanner Owens had the honor of closing it out for the Blue Raiders, and did so in incredible fashion with an eagle on the Par 5 16th hole to clinch the match 4&2 and his third title as a Blue Raider.


“I had 244 yards and was trying to just put it on the front of the green and make birdie to end it,” Owens said. “It came out a little hotter than I wanted but happened to roll up to about 10 feet and left me an eagle putt. It was a good shot with a little luck and a perfect way to end the week!”

Michael Barnard was the first Blue Raider on the board for the second day in a row, claiming an impressive 5&3 win after a 3&2 win in the semifinals.


“The first 2 rounds individually I was way out of it, but the great thing about college golf is that I still had a good opportunity to help the team out in the third round and match play,” Barnard said. “That’s what is so awesome about team sports, you always have a chance to help the team. I really just needed to get out of my own way and just play golf.


“I actually had to shave my head after round two because my man Kevin shot a 65, but that really made me feel like a new person and got all the bad out of me. After that I honestly just went and played golf and after things started to click I was able to gain confidence heading into match play and then played two great matches to help us win the title.”


Freshman Kevin Jegers set the table for Owens with a dominant 6&4 win, closing out his match quickly after his semifinal match was suspended before he could claim a win on Wednesday.

Connor McKay and Owen Stamper, who both won their semifinal matches on Wednesday, were in control as well as each were 3-up in their respective matches before they were suspended after Owens completed the title defense.


“We really struggled through that first day, but we stuck together as a team and every single guy was behind each other and supporting each other,” McEntire added. “After the first day, we found something in the second round that really fueled everyone to believe in what they are capable of. We did it again in the third round and then in match play these guys just dominated.”


With the Blue Raiders further solidifying their standing as the class of the league after a third consecutive C-USA title, they now await their destination for their fourth consecutive trip to NCAA Regionals.


This year’s Regional sites are The Sagamore Club in Noblesville, Ind., hosted by Ball State; Seminole Legacy Golf Club in Tallahassee, Fla., hosted by Florida State; Championship Course at UNM in Albuquerque, N.M., hosted by New Mexico; Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., hosted by Oklahoma State; Golf Club of Tennessee in Kingston Springs, Tenn., hosted by Vanderbilt; and Tumble Creek Golf & Country Club in Cle Elum, Wash., hosted by Washington.


The NCAA Regional selection show takes place next Wednesday, May 5, at 1:00 p.m. and is televised on the Golf Channel, while Regionals will be played May 17-19.


“I wish NCAA Regionals were this week with the way we are playing and the confidence our team has right now,” McEntire concluded. “I love the way they just refuse to let up. They have so much fight and so much competitiveness in them and they showed that this week.”

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