WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. – Campbell made its final preparations for the NCAA West Lafayette Regional Championship on Sunday with a five-hour practice round at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex Kampen Course.
"They got a chance to feel comfortable in their surroundings," said Campbell head coach John Crooks, who has guided the Camels to back-to-back NCAA regional appearances. "A lot of times when you see a golf course for the first time, you see the teeth of it, the hazards, the water, the bunkers and the tall grass. As the day wore on, the more we played, the more comfortable they became, they realize the fairways are plenty big, the greens are holding fine, in fact the greens are putting extremely well."
Crooks' lineup includes four players who competed in last year's NCAA regional at Kohler, Wis., and is the same starting five that set a league record in winning last month's Big South Conference Championship at 26-under-par. The 11th-seeded Camels will be paired with St. Mary's and Richmond for Monday's first round and will start from the 10th tee at 9:15 a.m.
Sophomore Jesper Svensson was named Big South player of the year after winning the league tournament at 14-under (67-66-69—202) to break the previous mark (-12) set by current World No.-1 Dustin Johnson of Coastal Carolina. He enters Monday's regional ranked 11th in the nation in sub-par strokes per round (4.34), 20th in par-3 scoring (3.05), 29th in birdies (124) and No.-168 in the Golfstat Cup with a 71.93 stroke average.
Junior Thomas La Morte was runner-up at the Big South Championship (67-69-72—208), helping the Camels win their first conference title since the 2009 Atlantic Sun tourney. He stands 10th among Big South stroke average leaders (73.0) and has five top-10 finishes in 2016-17.
Sophomore Ray Kraivixien earned all-conference honors for the second-straight year after compiling a 73.16 stroke average (12th-lowest in the league), while posting a pair of top-10 individual finishes.
Senior Craig Hornberger ranks 17th in the Big South Conference with a 73.92 stroke average and has produced two top-10 showings.
A Big South all-freshman team selection, Brett McLamb carries a 74.15 scoring average into the NCAA regional. He tied for 11th at the Big South Championship and also posted a 6th-place finish in March when the Camels won the team crown at the University of Houston's Border Olympics.
No.-5 Florida is the top seed in the West Lafayetteville and will be joined in the 13-team field by Illinois (No.-8), UNLV (17), Auburn (20), South Carolina (28), Colorado (32), Purdue (38), New Mexico (44), Augusta (52), Saint Mary's (57), Campbell (68), Richmond (91) and Cleveland State (147).
The top five teams in and top individual not on qualifying schools will advance to the NCAA Championship May 26-31 at Rich Harvest Farm in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Water comes into play or at least lines eight holes on the Kampen Course, which will stretch to 7411 yards for the 54-hole event. The layout features bent grass greens, fairways and tees, while presenting a challenge with vast sand bunkers, native grasslands, ponds and a natural celery bog.
"What makes a great course, a great test, is will playing the golf course separate the winners from the losers? Certainly, that's the case here. The golf course is long enough that length is going to be an issue. It's tight enough that you're going to have to hit it straight. The greens are small enough that you are going to have to be precise. This is truly a course that's going to test every part of their golf game."
The Kampen Course is rated one of the top collegiate courses in the nation and has been awarded 4.5 stars on Golf Digest's "Places to Play." The course has also played host to a number of prestigious collegiate and public tournaments such as the 2003 Women's NCAA Championship and the 2008 Men's NCAA Championship.
"I had dinner with Mr. Dye at this golf course when they played the 2008 NCAA national championship here," said Crooks, who served on the NCAA golf championships committee. "One of the people around the table asked him about his philosophy, and he responded that he wants to make the best players in the world uncomfortable, and that's just what this golf course does. He puts big water hazards in places where you feel like you have to play away from them, and that makes the hole that much harder. This is a big boy's golf course. You're going to have to play well here."
2017 NCAA Men's Golf West Lafayette Regional
Dates: Monday, May 15-Wednesday, May 17
Location / Course: West Lafayette, Ind. / Kampen Course
Par: 72, 7411 yards
Field (Golfstat Rank) (Automatic bid): 1. Florida (5), 2. Illinois (8) (Big Ten), 3. UNLV (17) (Mountain West), 4. Auburn (20), 5. South Carolina (28), 6. Colorado (32), 7. Purdue (38), 8. New Mexico (44), 9. Augusta (52) (MEAC), 10. St. Mary's (57), 11. Campbell (68) (Big South), 12. Richmond (91) (Atlantic-10), 13. Cleveland State (147) (Horizon).
Individuals: 1. Peter Kim (Army West Point), 2. Mark Lawrence Jr. (Virginia Tech), 3. Austin Squires (Cincinnati), 4. Keegan de Lange (Louisville), 5. Lloyd Jefferson Go (Seton Hall), 6. David Kocher (Maryland), 7. Sarit Suwannarut (Virginia Tech), 8. Patrick Flavin (Miami-Ohio), 9. Peyton White (Ohio), 10. Trent Wallace (Illinois State).