Furman’s Lape advances to NCAA championship
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Furman’s Sam Lape (-15) fired a final-round 64 Wednesday at the NCAA Salem Regional at the par-72, 7,126 yard The Cliffs at Keowee Falls in Salem, S.C., to finish in second place and claim the regional’s lone individual qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship, which will be held May 26-31 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
A senior from Atlanta, Ga., Lape teed off on No. 10 and birdied his first hole but bogeyed his second, which proved to be his only misstep of the round. After parring his next three holes, Lape eagled the par-5 No. 16 for the second time in three days to move to two under. On No. 18, his errant approach shot landed just off the ninth green, but he recovered to birdie the hole and turn at 3-under.
On the front nine, Lape birdied No. 1 then eagled the par-5 No. 2 to move to 6-under for the day, and the individual qualifying spot seemed to be within reach. He birdied No. 6 before leaving his tee shot just two feet from the hole on No. 7 to take control of second place and seemingly solidify his individual bid. Lape laid up for par on No. 8 then added a par on his final hole to punch his ticket to the NCAA finals. He finished just two strokes behind individual winner Ryan Burnett (-17) of North Carolina, who tallied a three-round total of 63-68-68=199.
Lape’s second-place finish marks the highest regional finish in Furman men’s golf history. He will be the first Paladin to compete at the NCAA Championship since Kirk Satterfield finished fifth at the 2001 NCAA East Regional to advance to the finals.
“I am really proud of Sam and so happy for him to advance,” said Furman head coach Matt Davidson. “He is an aggressive player and a great putter, and when he gets it going like he did this week, it’s a lot of fun to watch. The course suited Sam well, and he just played fantastic golf the first and third rounds. The NCAA Championship will be a great experience, and he is going in with a ton of momentum.”
Freshman Harris Barth (-2) carded a 1-under 71 to tie for 43rd. He played a flawless back nine with three birdies to turn at 3-under then added a birdie on No. 6. Senior Ross Funderburke (+1) shot a 3-under 69 on Wednesday to tie for 55th. Funderburke posted a team-high six birdies, including four birdies on the back nine in the tournament’s final round.
Sophomore Will Morlan (+5) scored a 77 with a birdie on No. 16 to finish 64th, while senior Walker Crosby (+9) tallied a 77 with birdies on No. 10 and No. 18, finishing 69th.
No. 11 Georgia Tech (-53) shot 21-under on Wednesday to win the regional by eight strokes over No. 35 Arkansas (-45). Second-ranked North Carolina (-43) finished third, followed by No. 47 New Mexico (-42) in fourth place. No. 14 Texas A&M (-29) won in a playoff over host Clemson (-29) to claim the final qualifying team spot. Furman (-12) finished tenth, ahead of Power 5 Purdue (-2), which ranks 38th.
The Paladins were part of a 14-team regional field that battled for a top-five finish and a berth in the 30-team NCAA Championship. The Salem Regional field included four of the top 25 teams in the country led by North Carolina.
Furman, which received a regional at-large bid for the first time since 2002, made its fifth NCAA Regional appearance. The Paladins last competed at a regional in 2010, when Furman finished 11th at the Southeast Regional in Alpharetta, Ga.
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