NC State eager to show off its new golf status

jgiglio@newsobserver.comMay 14, 2014 

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Arnold Palmer flashes the wolfpack sign as broadcaster Don Shea looks on Friday, July 31, 2009, during the grand opening of N.C. State's new Lonnie Poole Golf Course, on Centennial Campus. The golf course is the first to be built inside Raleigh's I-440 beltline since 1948.

TRAVIS LONG — 2009 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

— It will be a busy 10 days for N.C. State golf.

The women’s team will play in the NCAA Championship on Tuesday in Tulsa, Okla., after finishing third in the East regional.

The Wolfpack will host the Raleigh regional of the men’s NCAA tournament at Lonnie Poole Golf Course on Centennial Campus from Thursday through Saturday.

Richard Sykes has coached the men’s program for 43 years and didn’t think he’d be around long enough to see N.C. State host an NCAA event.

“This is really special,” Sykes said. “This is a chance for us to let everybody see what we’ve got.”

The golf teams went from “nomads,” as women’s coach Page Marsh put it, to having their own course in 2009, when Lonnie Poole opened near downtown Raleigh.

In January, the $6 million Carol Johnson Poole Clubhouse opened, meaning for the first time the men’s and women’s teams had their own locker rooms and Sykes and Marsh had their own offices.

Sykes, in a piece of great N.C. State trivia, actually worked in Everett Case’s office at Reynolds Coliseum before the 25,000-square-foot clubhouse opened four months ago.

“It was kind of a sad moment,” Sykes said of leaving his old office at Reynolds. “My car still wants to turn towards Reynolds when I get near campus.”

Marsh’s women’s team will get a chance to host a regional next year. Sykes said the hope is to do well hosting these two events and eventually be able to host the NCAA championship.

“It’s a process, and it’s gotten to be a big deal, but I think we’ll have a good chance at it,” Sykes said.

Marsh’s focus has been on her team’s second trip the NCAA Championship round in three years. Augusta James, Lindsay McGetrick and Brittany Marchand each shot a 69 in the final round of regional play. The team score of 280 – five golfers compete, the four best scores count toward the team score – was one of the best single-day efforts in program history, Marsh said.

Getting back to the championship round, which has a 24-team field, has been the main goal for the veteran team, which missed qualifying last year by one stroke.

“They were extremely motivated to make up for missing out last year,” Marsh said. “They’ve been waiting a whole year to make good on their opportunity.”

Sykes would rather have his men’s team in the regional than host but he said this would be the first time he wasn’t stressed during a regional.

There are six regional sites, and five teams from each site advance to the NCAA Championship next week in Kansas, but Sykes said this one will be the toughest regional.

Five of the top 30 teams in the country will be in Raleigh, and two of the top 10, including No. 2 Georgia Tech.

Admission for fans to the regional is free. The first group of players will tee off at 8 a.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Wake Forest is one of the 13 teams in the field, and East Carolina’s Eric Brady qualified as an individual.

“Trust me, these guys are really good,” Sykes said. “It’s free to watch them this week, but you’ll have to buy a ticket to see them on the tour in a couple of years.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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