“This is super exciting for Charlie and myself, but its about Charlie,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “It’s awesome for him and for our program. We’re ready to go have some fun and see the competition at the top college level. It’s a big stage, but once the tournament starts, it’s just golf. ” | Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
STOCKTON, Ca. – UTEP men’s golf senior Charles Corner pieced together three phenomenal rounds for the best tournament of his career at the NCAA Pacific Regional on Wednesday, finishing with a share of third place out of 75 competitors and in turn securing one of six individual spots at the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships.
Corner punched his ticket to Stillwater, Okla. for the May 25-27 event after shooting three rounds of 69 for a 9-under 207 total at The Reserve at Spanos Park Regional Course (par 72/ 7,239) in Stockton, Calif. The Canada product is the first UTEP golfer to advance to the national championships since Chris Baryla accomplished the feat in 2004.
Kansas, Stanford, Iowa State, Alabama and Oregon claimed the five team spots advancing to the national championships. Corner product finished higher than 14 ranked players, including the No. 2 player in the country, Justin Suh from Southern California.
“It feels amazing, it was a goal of mine to finish off my career like this and win as low individual,” Charles Corner said. “I knew coming into the week the chances were low considering how many players were here so it feels amazing to cap off my career like this and keep the postseason rolling.”
Corner recorded six birdies in the final round, including a string of three from holes No. 4 through No. 6, and only bogeyed once. He finished with 14 total birdies in the tournament and 36 pars.
It was a down-to-the-wire fight for the top individual spot for Corner and his tournament-pairing partner Blake Tomlinson of Utah, which was decided at the 17th hole. Corner was one shot in front of Tomlison leading up to hole No. 17 when he hit a tough shot up to the front edge of the green, almost into the water hazard. Tomlison hit next, but his shot fell into the water, giving Corner a three-stroke lead heading into the final hole. Corner made a par to secure the berth to the national championship and keep his final season rolling.
“Charlie played fantastic, his putting game was the best I’ve seen without question, absolutely incredible, unbelievable,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “We knew that we wanted Stanford and Oregon to play well as a team because it took two individuals off the board. When they [Stanford and Oregon] did, when it was clear that they were both going to advance, that was around the time we were making the turn. That kind of cleared the way for Charlie. As far as him knowing [he was advancing], he really didn’t know until I think the 17 fairway.”
The two-time Conference USA Second Team selection will be the only conference player on the national stage and the first golfer in Lieberwirth’s career to advance to the championships.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to coach at the national championship,” Lieberwirth said. “It’ll be special for both of us. I’m so proud of Charlie and what he’s done for our program and what he’s going to continue to do next week in Stillwater [Okla.].”
The top five teams and the top individual not on those teams from each of the six regional sites – Kissimmee, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Norman, Oklahoma; Stockton, California, and Bryan, Texas make up the 156 participants that will compete in the finals at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., hosted by Oklahoma State University.
Finals play consists of three days of stroke play on Friday, May 25 thru Sunday, May 27 (54 holes), after which the top 15 teams and nine individuals not on an advancing team will be determined. That is followed by a final day of 18 holes of stroke play on Monday, May 28 to determine the top eight teams that will advance to match play as well as the 72-hole individual champion. The team national champion will be determined by a match-play format that will consist of quarterfinals and semifinals conducted on Tuesday, May 29, followed by finals on Wednesday, May 30.
Live stats for the national championships will be available via www.golfstat.com.