news 4 days ago

UNCG golf team finishes 10th at NCAA regional day after announcing $1.5 million gift

News & Record, Greensboro, N.C. — Jeff Mills News & Record, Greensboro, N.C.

May 17--GREENSBORO -- They won't quit. Even when they're beat. Even when the season is over.

UNCG golf coach Terrance Stewart called from the west coast Wednesday, shortly after his Spartans finished 10th in the NCAA Pacific Regional in the San Francisco suburb of Stockton, Calif.

Only the top five teams advanced to next week's NCAA Championships tournament in Oklahoma.

And yet, Stewart couldn't put a player on the phone. Because all of his guys went from The Reserve at Spanos Park golf course to the driving range and putting green after their final round of the 2018 season.

"The fact that the guys are already out there practicing right now, getting ready for next season," Stewart said, "it just shows you exactly what their level of dedication is. They're already trying to find a way through the regional next year."

Kansas won this regional, beating No. 19 Stanford by a stroke. Oregon shot 8-under in the final round to move up into the last qualifying spot.

UNCG started the day at even par, tied with No. 6 LSU, but the Spartans shot 5-over par and dropped into 10th place.

"We just couldn't keep it going," Stewart said.

Nick Lyerly, the Southern Conference champion and freshman of the year, closed with a 1-under 71 and finished tied for 30th at even par.

UNCG senior Josh Stockwell tied with Lyerly, shooting an even-par 72 in the final round of his college career.

"We're returning some very good players next year," Stewart said. "We're bringing back perhaps the two best players in the conference (Lyerly and Bryce Hendrix), and Jonathan Brightwell is right there with them as well."

While the SoCon champs were out west playing in the program's second NCAA tournament, back home the school announced a $1.5 million gift from a former UNCG golfer.

Robert and Nanette Saunders each endowed scholarships named for them, funding two of the golf program's 4 1/2 scholarships.

"It's a program-changing gift. It's the largest gift in the entire history of UNCG athletics," Stewart said.

Rob Saunders graduated in 1986 and earned his MBA two years later. He played golf for UNCG with Rodney Russell, the uncle of Stockwell.

The golf team's NCAA berth was UNCG's third this year, along with men's basketball and softball. And the baseball team clinched a SoCon regular-season title last week.

"We've had such a great year athletically," Record said. "... Things are trending in the right direction."

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Contact Jeff Mills at (336) 373-7024, and follow @JeffMillsNR on Twitter.

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