NORMAN, Okla. (5/16/18) – Arkansas State senior Tanner Napier completed play at the NCAA Norman Regional men’s golf tournament Wednesday, shooting a final-round 74 to end the 54-hole event with a combined 218 that placed him tied for 29th out of 75 players.
Although Napier dropped 10 spots from his starting position entering the last 18 holes, he still collected the best ever finish by an A-State golfer competing as individual at an NCAA regional. Napier topped the previous finishes by Zan Luka Stirn last season (T58th), Lloyd du Preez in 2010 (T60th) and Zoltan Veress in 1998 (T87th) and 1999 (57th).
“It was a fun experience, and it was nice to compete against some teams and players that we didn’t see during the regular season,” Napier said of the regional. “I played well yesterday, but I didn’t play my best golf overall. It was still great to be able to close out my senior season by advancing to postseason play when I thought I had a chance at it the last couple of years, but didn’t get the opportunity. I wish we could have done it as a team, but it was fun to get to go and definitely a great reward after working hard the last four years.”
A two-time All-Sun Belt Conference selection, Napier recorded an opening-day 75 to end the first round tied for 36th place. He bounced back to card a 69, his best single-round score of the tourney, the next day as he climbed 17 spots into a tie for 19th place.
He entered today’s round just three strokes behind the leader who, at that time, was holding the individual spot advancing to the NCAA finals in Stillwater, Okla., but finished eight strokes out of the position eventually won by Pepperdine’s Joshua McCarthy.
The low five teams and the low individual not on those teams from each of the six regionals advance to the finals. Oklahoma claimed the team title on the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club course, while Brigham Young and North Florida finished tied for second. Also advancing to the finals were Auburn and Arkansas, which tied for fourth place.
“Tanner is a great young man, and he is obviously a very good player,” said A-State head coach Mike Hagen. “Even though we didn’t achieve our team goals this year, it was fantastic to have another player representing us in an NCAA Regional.
“It was a strong regional with a lot of great players, and Tanner had a great shot at advancing to the finals going into today. He hit it well off the tee today and didn’t have a bad round at all, but unfortunately some of his putts just weren’t dropping for him. We’re very proud of him and happy he was able to close out his fantastic career here by taking part in a regional.”
Napier ended the tournament only one stroke behind three players tying for 26th place and within two of claiming a top-20 finish. Today’s round saw him register 15 pars and one birdie, one bogie and one double bogie to place him at 2-over par.