The Conference USA champion UTEP men�s golf team learned on Thursday morning that it will be one of eight squads participating in the Sammamish (Wash.) NCAA Regional May 15-17.� The regional will be contested at the Aldarra Golf Club with 54-hole stroke play as the format.
�I think it could be a great place for us to go,� UTEP coach Scott Lieberwirth said.� �We haven�t been out to that golf course, and I don�t think many teams have.� [Regional host] Washington has never hosted an event out there, so it�s going to be a new experience for any team besides Washington.� I think that�s good in that we don�t have any teams with an advantage over another.� I think it bodes well for us going back to cool season grass, something that most of our team has grown up with and is familiar with.� I think that�s a definite positive for us.�
UTEP is seeded eighth in the regional and will be joined by top seed USC, no. 2 seed Kent State, no. 3 seed Texas A&M, no. 4 seed Florida State, no. 5 seed Washington, no. 6 seed Alabama, no. 7 seed San Diego State, no. 9 seed Penn State, no. 10 seed Michigan, no. 11 seed Michigan State, no. 12 seed Seattle, no. 13 seed Marquette and no. 14 seed Bryant.
�That�s maybe the drawback of going to this region in that at least in the top five lines, it�s statistically the toughest region having #1 [USC], #12 [Kent State] and #13 [Texas A&M] in that field,� Lieberwirth said.� �We have seen USC.� They are awesome.� We know Texas A&M has had an extremely strong year.� Washington, the host, is also very dangerous, especially on their home golf course.� Alabama has come back and played really well later on this spring.� We will definitely have our hands full.�
A total of 81 teams earned NCAA Regional bids and are disbursed among six regionals.� The top five teams in each regional will advance to the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill. May 26-31.
�In the end, it is going to come down to how we execute and if we do a good job of that, I think we are going to position ourselves to get to the championship,� Lieberwirth said.� �There�s nothing different.� It�s still the same game we have played all year.� The stakes are higher so it�s about managing our options, not getting ahead of ourselves and being patient, moreso this tournament than in any other tournament we�ll play.�
UTEP is participating in NCAA Regionals for the 14th time, and the first time since 2004.� The Miners are tying to advance to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 1995.
�I�ll tell our guys to have fun.� We don�t really have anything to lose at this point,� Lieberwirth said. ��There are some higher ranked teams that sometimes play with a lot of pressure because of an expectation of getting to the national championship.� We need to just go play golf and forget about any expectation. �We�ll add the scores up at the end.� And I think we do a pretty good job of that as a team in general, not really looking at leaderboards, not looking at where we�re placed, let�s just play well for us and if we have a good tournament, we�re going to be in that mix.�
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