Birdies by all five Trojans on the par-5 18th hole secured the University of Arkansas at Little Rock its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Men's Golf Championships after the final round of the NCAA Stillwater (Okla.) Regional on Tuesday evening at Karsten Creek.
The series of birdies -- bookended by Nicolas Horder and Magnus Lomholt, with Marcel Rauch, Logan Pate and Anton Albers in between -- brought the Trojans to 6-over 294 on the final day. Their 15-over 879 three-round total vaulted them past Auburn and Baylor into the fifth and final qualifying spot by one stroke.
"The shots that were hit on 18 alone showed you what this team is made of," Trojans Coach Jake Harrington said. "The players never gave up. They finished so freaking strong today. I'm just so proud of them."
Alberts, Lomholt and Pate combined to shoot 7 under over the final five holes, and each set individual program postseason bests with their finishes. Alberts' 1 under for the tournament tied for 10th, Lomholt tied for 14th at 1 over and Pate tied for 26th at 5 over.
Horder's 74 marked his best round of the week and pulled him into a tie for 65th, while Rauch shot 12 over to close tied for 69th.
The Trojans qualified along with Oklahoma State (-28), Illinois (-14), Southern Methodist (even par) and Sam Houston State (+11), and they will compete from May 28-June 2 in the NCAA Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Earlier in the day, Arkansas State University's Zan Luka Stirn fired a second-round 66 at the NCAA Noblesville (Ind.) Regional, setting a program record and helping move the Red Wolves up one spot to eighth place entering today's final round. Stirn's performance came as ASU shot 2 over, leaving the Red Wolves 11 over and 14 strokes off the five-team cut line.
The Trojans shot 9 over across two rounds Monday and began the weather-delayed final day six strokes out of fifth place. UALR shot 12 over on the front nine before clawing back with an even-par showing and 11 birdies over the final nine holes -- led by Albers' three birdies -- while Auburn and Baylor shot 9 over and 17 over on the back nine, respectively.
Horder began the turnaround with a birdie on the 14th hole, and Albers birdied the 14th and 15th along with Pate. The pair followed Horder and Rauch with birdies on the 18th, leaving the Trojans a stroke off fifth place when Lomholt made his birdie putt to clinch the Trojans' place in the championship.
"There's such a sense of pride representing Little Rock and representing the underdog," Harrington said. "We played arguably the toughest regional out there -- all the heavyweights were here. It's hard to put into words how this feels because the guys have worked their butts off."
Stirn's 66 marked the lowest individual round by a Red Wolf in NCAA regional play, topping the previous best of 67 set by Jason Jackson in 2000. The round boosted him from 58th to a tie for 12th headed into today's final round.
Behind Stirn, Sun Belt golfer of the year Julien Sale followed a first-round 71 with a 74 to fall 17 spots to a tie for 28th place. Luka Naglic improved with a 73, moving him into a tie for 50th. Adam Thorp's second-round 78 dropped him 26 places into a tie for 52nd, and Connor Williams remained last among the Red Wolves with a round of 77.
ASU enters today alongside UNC-Wilmington (6 over) and Alabama-Birmingham (8 over) chasing fifth-place North Florida at 3 under for the final NCAA qualifying spot.
ASU individual scores through two rounds
Zan Luka Stirn;77;66;T-12
UALR final individual scores after three rounds