HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. — The nationally third-ranked and Peach Belt Conference champion USC Aiken men’s golf team will open play in the NCAA Division II South/Southeast Regional today. The regional will be held at the par-72, 6,928-yard El Campeon golf course at the Mission Inn Resort & Club.
USCA’s making its 21st appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament in the past 22 years. The top seven teams and top two student-athletes not with a team after stroke play will advance to the finals. That will be held from May 20-24 at the par-71, 7,061-yard East Course at the Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pa.
The three-day, 54-hole regional will feature one round each day. Action will get underway at 7:30 a.m. each day and admission is free.
Last year, the Pacers finished fifth at the at the regional, allowing them to advance to their 16th appearance in the Men’s Golf Championship. A First-Team All-American in 2012, USCA’s Matt Atkins concluded the three rounds of the regional with a 6-under score of 210. Atkins carded 70 in all three rounds en route to his first career victory.
USCA and Atkins got through the stroke play portion of the National Championship by finishing seventh, which paired them against eventual National Champion Nova Southeastern in the quarterfinals of the match play portion of the national championship. The Pacers fell 4-1.
The 2013 PBC Player of the Year, Atkins commences the regional coming off individual medalist honors at the PBC Championship. Atkins finished his three rounds with a 4-under score of 212 (78-65-69). He now has three individual wins in his Pacer career.
The Pacers captured top team honors at the league championship, concluding the three rounds with a score of 873 (300-282-291). That allowed them to finish two strokes better than second-place finisher and current national No. 9 Columbus State (298-291-286–875). USCA now has nine PBC team championships (1995, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2013).
The team title was the second of the season for the Pacers, who also won the Kiawah Island Invitational. USCA now has 76 tournament wins in program history.
In addition to the two team victories, USCA has six top-5 team finishes in 11 events this season. The Pacers have finished second or better as a team five times.
USCA has had three players earn accolades this season. Atkins, a senior, was chosen to the PBC All-Conference First-Team and All-Tournament Team in addition to winning league Player of the Year plaudits, while senior JP Solis was chosen to the PBC All-Conference Team. Both Atkins and Solis have collected league Player of the Week honors. USCA senior Mark Dickson was also tabbed to the PBC All-Tournament Team.
Under Hall of Fame head coach and 2013 PBC Coach of the Year Michael Carlisle, the Pacers have three NCAA Division II National Championships (2004, 2005, 2006) and three NCAA Division II runner-up finishes (1995, 1996 and 1999).