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Razorbacks rally, fall three shots short

Athletic Communications
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Senior Ethan Tracy of the University of Arkansas men’s golf team backed up his second round 67 with a team leading 70 on the final round of the NCAA Bowling Green Regional on Saturday, but despite a furious rally on the final day, the Razorbacks came up three strokes shy of qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

Arkansas shot the second best round of the day on Saturday and at one point was eight-under par before finishing with a team score of 285, three-under par.  The single-round tally matches the 10th best by an Arkansas team at a NCAA Regional all-time.  Chattanooga won the team title with a team score of five-under par with Texas A&M one stroke behind at four-under.  UCLA, Virginia Tech and Memphis also earned spots at the NCAA Championship by finishing in the top five.

“I am really proud of what we were able to accomplish this season,” Arkansas Head Coach Brad McMakin said.  “Unfortunately, we were not able to overcome a tough first round, but these guys had a tremendous day and left everything out on the course.  I can’t say enough good things about the way that they competed.”

Arkansas opened hot and sank nine birdies over the first six holes.  Combined with other scores, the Razorbacks found themselves as high as fourth in the team standings early.  Arkansas would complete their opening nine holes with a score of seven-under par.  Holes No. 1 through No. 4 proved to be the Razorbacks nemesis on Saturday as those four holes caused Arkansas to shoot seven-over par and wiped out the tremendous round that the Razorbacks had started.  Now behind by seven strokes from the fifth qualifying spot, the Razorbacks rallied again and closed the course with five birdies and a bogey over the final four holes, falling three strokes shy of Memphis who closed with a final round of six-over par.

Tracy not only led the Razorbacks in score, the Hilliard, Ohio, native had an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships as an individual, but his birdie attempt on 18 just missed and he would miss a playoff by one stroke.  Tracy was three-under par on the back side of the course, a side that he torched for five-under par on Friday, then played the front nine at one-over par for his final score of 70.  His 54-hole total of 213 matches the 10th best score by an Arkansas individual at a NCAA regional.  The All-American closes his career with a stroke average of 73.10, the eighth best in school history and his average of 71.76 this season is the fifth best in school history.

“Ethan has had a tremendous career,” an emotional McMakin said.  “He played a flawless last 36 holes and tried to carry these guys on his back.  He is a great player who will only improve as he continues to hone his game.  If we could have a bunch of Ethan Tracy’s representing this team and the University we would be really happy.”

Also shooting under par on Saturday were junior Austin Cook and sophomore Sebastian Cappelen who each carded rounds of 71.  Cook’s day began with three pars, but the Jonesboro, Ark., native got hot with a birdie on No. 13, the first of back-to-back-to-back birdies and he closed the back side of the course at two-under par.  Cook ran into trouble on the front side with four straight bogeys as he continually missed his plays into the greens, but wrapped up the round with three birdies over the final four holes to put Arkansas in contention.

Cappelen also had a great start to his round as he birdied three of his first five holes.  One of those birdies included a 25-foot chip on the par five, 11th, a tremendous accomplishment considering that his second shot nestled next to a tree and he had to chop his way close to the green just to have a chance.  A double bogey on No. 18 put Cappelen at one-under par for the back nine and a pair of birdies and bogeys on the front side of the course allowed him to finish at one-under par.

Arkansas’ final score on Saturday belonged to freshman Thomas Sorensen who shot a one-over par, 73.  Three pars to open the round were followed by back-to-back birdies on No. 13 and No. 14.  On the par four, 14th, Sorensen cut the dogleg right and drove the green, roughly a 290-yard drive, landing his shot softly on the green where he would two-putt for birdie.  Sorensen then played the tougher nine holes at two-over par for his one-over par score.

Junior Josh Eure wrapped up the Arkansas day with his best round of the Regional.  Eure posted a bogey on No. 11, but then sank five straight par putts before a bogey on No. 17 and he wrapped up the back nine with a score of two-over par, a significant improvement from his first two days.  Eure then played the front nine at two-over par with three bogeys and a birdie for a final score of 76, four-over par.

The record-setting Razorback season ends with the regional finish.  Arkansas won a school record seven tournaments this year, placed two players on the All-SEC first team, one on the All-SEC freshman team and had the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.  The Razorbacks team stroke average of 287.67 ranks as the third best in school history.

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