April 25, 2014
RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech's golf team enters the postseason this week as the 2014 Conference USA Golf Championship tees off Sunday at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond, Oklahoma.
The 14 C-USA men's golf teams will play 18 holes per day on the East Championship Course, a 7,100-yard Pete Dye design, which also annually hosts the Oklahoma State Championships.
The three-day championship will be held April 27-29, with a practice round slated for April 26. While every course the Bulldogs have played on this season has been a par-72 challenge, Oak Tree's two courses both play to a par 70.
The East Course is a tough slog from the outset. Forget the tips at nearly 7,100 yards; even from the 6,400 -yard middle markers, the half-dozen front-side par-4s average 410 yards. It's a bunker-strewn landscape, humps and hollows wreaking havoc with shots drifting from the short grass. It's a stiff enough challenge, but merely a preamble to the watery finish. Four of the final six, including a pair of distinctive par-3s are completely menaced by water1.
Playing partners for the first day will be determined by a blind draw. For every succeeding round, team scores will determine pairings. The winning team earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Golf Championship.
Of the 14 teams that play men's golf in Conference USA, UAB will be the most challenging as the Blazers enter the tournament ranked No. 18 in the country by GolfStat.com. Louisiana Tech enters the postseason ranked No. 110 nationally.
As a result of the blind draw early Friday, the Bulldogs will tee off at 8 a.m. CT Sunday morning and will be paired with East Carolina and Southern Miss. The Bulldogs faced ECU in one tournament this season, going 0-1, while LA Tech went 2-1 against Southern Miss in three tournaments against the Golden Eagles.
In all LA Tech has faced nine of the 13 other C-USA programs this season. The only programs the Bulldogs have not faced this season are Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Old Dominion and UAB. LA Tech recorded winning records against No. 63 Middle Tennessee and No. 107 UTEP (two programs ranked ahead of the Bulldogs) and went .500 against No. 90 Tulsa and No. 114 Rice.
A strong performance by Lange this week could earn the sophomore an at-large bid as an individual to the NCAA Regionals on May 15-17 at one of six regional sites. Lange and any of the other Bulldogs can net an automatic bid as an individual by winning the Conference USA individual title this week as can the team with a team championship.
A championship by any individual or the team would result in Louisiana Tech's first NCAA appearance since the University moved up to Division I in the late 1970s.
The NCAA Division I Golf selections will be announced on May 5 at 9 a.m. CT on the Golf Channel. Auburn (Auburn University Club), Missouri (The Club at Old Hawthorne), NC State (Lonnie Poole Golf Course), Northern Illinois (Rich Harvest Farms), Oregon (Eugene Country Club) and UTSA (Briggs Ranch Golf Club) will serve as the six regional hosts this season.
Travis Wilmore and Jack Lempke, the program's two seniors, follow Lange in scoring this season as Wilmore has an average score of 73.9 while Lempke has averaged 74.5. Those two, along with Lange, have each recorded a low round of 67 this season while Lange and Wilmore have both recorded a top-five finish this year.
Located approximately 15 miles north of Oklahoma City, Oak Tree Country Club offers two 18-hole Pete Dye-designed golf courses - the East Course and West Course - both named on the Golf Digest 2013 Top 10 "Best-in-State" rankings. Oak Tree also features a dramatic wood and stone 65,000-square-foot clubhouse with formal and informal dining, a 75,000-square-foot Sports Facility with six indoor tennis courts, six outdoor tennis courts, an indoor jogging track, fitness center, aerobics studio, racquetball court, basketball court, additional locker rooms with saunas and whirlpools, an Olympic-size swimming pool and children's wading pool.
Live results for the tournament will be available on LATechSports.com and GolfStat.com.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Golf, please follow @LATechGolf on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.