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Pirates Conclude Stay At NCAA Championships

May 31, 2012

Unfortunately, the Pirates will not be advancing to match play this weekend. A very challenging course proved to be too much for ECU to overcome this week. However, the Pirates played their hearts out. As each of them will admit they didn't play their best this week, but that doesn't take away from a great year full of highlights; capped by the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Championship finals.

Sadly, we say goodbye to the senior class that got this thing started four years ago: Adam Stephenson, Harold Varner and David Watkins. The trio accounts for three of the top-5 lowest career scoring averages in school history.

Stephenson was one of the most improved, if not the most improved player this season. He entered the NCAA Championships with a 72.3 round average, more than two strokes better than his 74.9 average as a junior.

Although, I don't know what the official record for career tournaments played at ECU is, it would be hard to imagine that anyone has played in more than Watkins, who played in his 47th event this week. A two-time first-team All-Conference USA player, there was only one tournament in which he didn't participate and that was during his freshman season. His named is etched throughout the ECU record books.

Varner's name is at the top of most ECU individual records. The 2012 Conference USA Player-of-the-Year is the only person in school history to participate in three NCAA regional championships and the only player ever to win both the North Carolina Amateur Stroke and Match Play titles. His leadership and persona will be missed.

It was a great experience for everyone here this week and although the team is losing three key seniors, the program's goal to contend and win at the championship finals remains unchanged. Zach Edmondson and Ryan Eibner return for the 2013 season as does Eric Brady, who we believe has a bright future.

Our hearts continue and grieve over the loss this week of Trevor Times. He will always be our teammate and always be a Pirate.

The video below has highlights from today's third round action along with the final putt of each player and comments from each member of the senior class and coach McPhaul.


ECU Gets Early Third Round Start

May 31, 2012

The third and final round of stroke play is officially underway. The Pirates were part of the second wave of teams to tee off this morning. We woke to cloudy skies and cool temperatures, but by 8 o'clock the sun had broken through the clouds and temperatures were on the rise. We arrived at the course shortly before 7 to allow the guys some extra time on the driving range this morning.

The team appeared to be very relaxed this morning and ready to compete. That may be from the familiarity of playing with a pair of conference rivals or just the fact of having nothing to lose. Although the odds may not be in their favor, don't count the Pirates out. In the second round of the River Landing Intercollegiate, ECU carded a 14-under par 274 and shot an 8-under 276 during the first round of last week's NCAA Athens Regional. Those are two of the top five lowest team rounds in school history, so they have the ability.

Be sure to follow the Pirates hole-by-hole on the official site of the NCAA DI Men's Golf Championships after you watch the Pirates take their third round tee shots.


Pirates Struggle Through The Second Round

May 30, 2012

Today was a rough day for the Pirates. It started off well enough with six birdies on the first two holes and dropped the Pirates to 8-over. However, bogeys, not birdies, became the theme of the day. Each one of the five-member team players finished over-par today. For the most part, the players handled the back nine well, but the front nine caused a lot of headaches.

Hole No.2 was particularly brutal with two triple bogeys and two bogeys from the squad. Adam Stephenson was the only player to par the 463-yard, par-4 hole guarded by deep left side bunkers and steep hills.

Even though today was a struggle, the Pirates didn't give up. Zach Edmondson pared four of the final five holes, Adam shot par on the final nine holes and Harold shot par on the last five holes.

Although it will take a tremendous effort tomorrow (with a lot help from the field) for the Pirates to make it to match play, there is a lot of golf still to be played. ECU will tee-off alongside Conference USA foes Memphis and UAB on Thursday morning at 7:50 a.m. (10:50 EDT).

The NCAA will provide live video streaming from the 10th, 14th and 18th holes during Thursday's final round beginning at 3 p.m. EDT. We should be off the course by then, but click here to watch live coverage. Also follow the Pirates hole-by-hole with live stats.


Round Two Is Underway

May 30, 2012

The Pirates officially began round two of the NCAA Championship at 4:10 EDT. Zach Edmondson teed off first followed by David Watkins, Ryan Eibner, Adam Stephenson and Harold Varner approximately 10 minutes apart. East Carolina began its round in ninth-place, but granted half of the field hadn't begun its second round.

ECU ended round one tied for 16th, five shots back of the final match play slot. The top eight teams at the end of the 54-hole tournament advance to match play. Team ties shall be broken by a sudden-death playoff, counting the low four scores relative to par on each hole. Play shall continue on each successive hole until a winner is determined. If more than two teams are tied a shotgun format will be used. The 2012 NCAA individual champion will be determined through the 54-hole stroke play competition.

The conditions are very similar to yesterday with a sun drenched course and wind blowing in off the Pacific Ocean, but the course proved to play much tougher this morning for some of the teams that played during Tuesday's afternoon wave. No. 1 seed Texas shot 11-over, No. 4 Auburn carded a 15-over and No. 9 Stanford fired an 18-over. Sixth-seeded USC and No. 8 Washington posted the best scores of the morning wave of teams at 2-over.

The video below contains shots of the course from atop the clubhouse along with each of the guy's tee shots off No. 10 to start the day. You can follow the Pirates hole-by-hole on NCAA.com.


The Pirates Complete Their First Round At The NCAAs

May 29, 2012

The Pirates finished up the first round at 11-over 295. Senior Harold Varner posted the lowest round of the day at par-71, while fellow senior Adam Stephenson shot a 1-over 72. Varner posted three birdies and an eagle on No. 11 before paring five of the final seven holes. He nearly finished at 2-under, but bogeys on 12 and 16 dropped him to even. Stephenson recorded three birdies on the back nine to counter four total bogeys and finish at 1-over. Junior Zach Edmondson came in at 4-over, while sophomore Ryan Eibner carded a 6-over.

ECU finished tied for 7th among the teams that comprised the morning wave. The afternoon wave, which was composed of the top-15 seeded teams didn't begin until shortly 12:20 p.m. (3:20 p.m. EDT) Final results will be posted once the entire field has completed their round. Live stats are available through the NCAA's official web site.

Below are some clips from the guys on the course along with some of their thoughts following the first round.


ECU Signee Trevor Times Tragically Passes Away

May 29, 2012

The tone of playing in its first NCAA Championship took a somber turn the night before play even began as the team learned that ECU signee Trevor Times had presumably drowned on Memorial Day. Our worst fears were confirmed Tuesday morning after learning that his body had been discovered by search crews in James City County, Va.

"Our hearts are heavy with the news of Trevor's passing," said Pirate head coach Press McPhaul. "He followed this team closely and was often sending us emails or texts encouraging us to work hard and play well. He was excited to be a Pirate and we were looking forward to his arrivals in the fall. My prayers are with his family."

Crews found his body around 10:20 a.m. about 35 feet off shore in six feet of water. Police said he was trying to swim to a sand bar 75 yards offshore when witnesses said they saw him in trouble and then go under.


Away We Go!!

May 29, 2012

Play is officially underway at the 2012 NCAA Men's Golf Championships. The Pirates began competition this off hole No. 1 at 7:50 a.m., but as luck would have it Los Angeles traffic delayed my course arrival. I did get here in time to watch Ryan, Adam and Harold tee off, which you can see below. I'll have more video later with action from today's round along with comments from the Pirate players.

The weather is picture perfect with temperatures around 70 with a slight wind. Certainly there will be no complaints about the conditions today.

Live stats are available through the NCAA's official web site.


Tuesday Starts Championship Play

May 28, 2012

After two days in Santa Monica, the Pirates got their first look at the Riviera Country Club on Monday. The 7,292-yard, par-71 George Thomas designed golf course, has been host to both the U.S. Open and PGA Championships with the PGA TOUR stopping each year for the Northern Trust Open. The course hosted the U.S. Open in 1948; it was first PGA event to be played west of the Mississippi. The guys were thoroughly impressed with the course and are looking forward to the challenge that awaits them. To read more about the historic venue, click here.

The video below features some action from today's practice round as well as the thoughts of a couple of ECU players.

After practice, coach McPhaul assembled the group together for a team meeting in which they received a "pep talk' from PGA TOUR golfer Brandt Snedeker, who played for McPhaul at Vanderbilt. Snedeker spoke to the team about the importance of being patient on the course and of not being overly aggressive on certain parts of the course because they can be unforgiving. He also explained how difficult the course could be and how best to manage it. Snedeker mentioned to them that even the guys on tour get nervous at Riviera, so hopefully that will help them relax.

The day concluded with an outstanding dinner at the club. Actor/comedian Bill Murray was in attendance while two-time NCAA individual champion and 1987 U.S. Open Champion Scott Simpson was the featured speaker.

The Pirates will be part of the second group to tee off during the morning wave. Paired with Illinois and Oklahoma, ECU will begin its championship quest at 7:50 a.m. (10:50 a.m. EDT) off the first tee. Their lineup consists of Zach Edmondson (7:50), David Watkins (8:00), Ryan Eibner (8:10) Adam Stephenson (8:20) and Harold Varner (8:30). Live stats will be available on the official website for the NCAA Men's Golf Championship.


Pirates Get First Taste Of Riviera On Monday

May 27, 2012

During our stay on the west coast, we'll be blogging about the experience of the NCAA Championship. Over the next few days, you can expect to find entries from both staff and players along with photos and video clips documenting our time in Southern California. We've got a few pictures posted on Facebook now.

Since arriving in L.A. on Saturday, we've been trying to adjust to the time change. Three hours is a big difference, but we got a late wake-up call this morning, so that was very beneficial. We are staying the Loews Hotel, located just in front of the world famous Santa Monica Pier. We strolled down the pier Saturday afternoon and saw lots to interesting things, none more so than the guy with an 80-lb. snake, which Zach had the courage to to let wrap itself around him. Way to MAN UP! After lunch on the pier and a brief nap, it was over to Chavez Ravine to watch the Dodgers take on the Astros. We had awesome seats in the lower level, but no foul balls came our way. Oh well, some of the guys settled for the souvenir stadium cup instead. We did meet a lady whose brother-in-law is stationed at Fort Bragg and wished us luck this week. I think we may have a new fan!

Sunday the guys got back on the links at the Brentwood Country Club in L.A. The conditions here are picture perfect, but the wind coming off the ocean can make things a little tricky. I know its only been two days since they last played, but the guys were excited to get back on the course this morning. After lunch and trying to catch up on some sleep this afternoon it was out to dinner for some fine Italian dining. I don't want to give a shameless plug, but if you ever come to Santa Monica and need a dining suggestion, we have one for you.

We've had a great time here so far, but as Harold so eloquently stated in the van, "We are here to win a golf tournament." Everyone is anxious to get out tomorrow morning on the course at the Riviera Country Club for the first time and get a feel for how it plays. Our practice round begins at 7:40 a.m. (10: 40 a.m. EDT).


Pirates Receive Seed And Tee Times For NCAA Championships

May 22, 2012

GREENVILLE, N.C. --- The East Carolina men's golf team has been seeded 23rd for the 2012 NCAA Championships at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., May 29-June 3.

Thirty teams and six individuals qualified for this year's championship event through six regional tournaments. After 54 holes of stroke play, the top eight teams will advance to match play on Friday, June 1 to determine the champion. The individual national champion will be crowned at the conclusion of stroke play.

The Pirates will be paired with No. 22 seed Oklahoma and No. 24 Illinois for the first two rounds of competition. The trio will tee off in 10-minute increments from 7:50 to 8:20 a.m. on Tuesday and from 1:10 to 1:50 p.m. Wednesday. The third-round tee times and pairings will be based on the 36-hole scores.