From the links to the National Mall, seniors Brian Carroll, Andrew Gallo and Dan Mirabella spent the last four days going from green to green.
Thursday, the trio led the GW golf team into the program’s first NCAA Tournament in 60 years at the East Regional. After three days of golf, they returned to Washington from their trip to the par-72 Lake Nona Golf Club, the host of the regional, to face the Mall with fellow graduates at Commencement Sunday morning.
The Colonial squad, which consisted of the three seniors, junior Raman Luther and freshman Juan Pablo Zuluaga, shot a combined 58-over-par over the three days. The quintet finished in 23rd place, equaling its seeding. Wake Forest took the East Regional crown, shooting a combined even par, edging out defending national champ Georgia, which finished at one-over.
“The result was disappointing,” coach Scott Allen said. “We tried to make a move on Friday. The guys faded in the final holes on Friday, with a little bit of the pressure. Hopefully it’s a learning experience for them and we’ll be back next year.”
Carroll tied for 44th place at seven-over-par (73-77-73). Both Gallo and Luthra shot +16 (77-77-78 and 78-77-77), finishing tied for 103rd. Mirabella (79-76-80) ended at 19-over, tied for 116th, while Zuluaga (85-80-83) finished 123rd at +32.
“We didn’t play anywhere near our best, but it was our first time there and a couple of them were certainly nervous,” Allen said. “As the team moved up the leader board on Friday, we thought we might have a chance to do something special. As the no. 1 player on the team all year, Brian definitely felt the pressure for the team and for himself. He didn’t finish as well as he would have liked, but he hung in there really well.”
A-10 newcomer Charlotte earned a spot in the finals, which will begin May 31 in Sunriver, Ore., by finishing in the top 10. The 49ers tied for fifth at 13-over-par. Rhode Island and Richmond, the other two teams from the A-10 competing in the East Regional, finished 19th and 25th, respectively. Xavier finished tied for 16th in the Central Regional.
For Carroll, who was named to the Atlantic 10 Conference All-Academic Team for the second straight year and is a finalist for the 2006 National Byron Nelson Award, the second-most prestigious award in college golf, competitive play is not over. Carroll will tee off in June at Sectional Qualifying for the U.S. Open, one of professional golf’s major tournaments, after shooting 68 on May 15 in the Local Qualifying. Carroll has the opportunity to become one of the 86 players in the 156-person field to make the event without a full exemption.
“He’s going to play amateur golf this summer,” Allen said. “He’s going to give it his best and give it a shot and hope that it all works.”
Despite losing three key seniors, Allen is confident that the team will make another run at the NCAA Tournament next year.
“We had eight guys this year who were all at the top,” he said. “We’ve got five or so guys coming back who have been all no. 2 (on the team) at some point during the year. With those five guys we should be pretty strong.”