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GOLF: ISU earns 1st NCAA Finals berth since 1953

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- The Iowa State mens golf team saved its best for last this afternoon. Behind a blistering final-round 270 (18-under), the Cyclones locked up their first NCAA Championship berth since 1953 by tying for fourth (849) at the NCAA Columbia Regional in Columbia, Missouri.

The top five teams earned spots to the 2014 NCAA Championship, May 23-28 at the Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas. Its the first time the Cyclones have made the NCAA finals in the current regional format, which was introduced in 1990.

Iowa State head coach Andrew Tank witnessed history today.

Im not sure how to put it into words how happy I am for the guys, Tank said. Its pretty emotional and really special. Its something as a team was our goal at the beginning of the season. We knew we could do it. But, you never know how you react once you actually achieve your goal. Its a great feeling.

Coming into the final round the Cyclones were three shots behind the fifth and final qualifying spot (Arizona State). However, they wasted little time setting the tone this morning, carding a 9-under on the front nine. ISUs 270 tally was the low round of the day and the best 18-hole team score in school history.

Picking a hero for the Cyclones today is virtually impossible. The entire team stepped up, recording a mind-boggling 22 birdies and two eagles on the day. Four of the five Cyclones were in the red, led by All-American junior Scott Fernandez.

Fernandez, who posted five birdies for a front-nine 32, shot a 6-under 66 to tie for the lowest score ever by a Cyclone in NCAA postseason play. The junior All-American was 6-under through 10 holes after an eagle on the par-5 10th hole. He ended the tournament tied for sixth at 209 (72-71-66), the best-ever finish by a Cyclone in a NCAA Regional

Junior Sam Daley, the runner-up medalist at the Big 12 Championship, equaled Fernandezs 66 in the final round. Daleys round only had one blemish when he bogeyed No. 6. He had seven birdies and 10 pars on the rest of the holes to finish the tournament tied for 17th at 212 (74-72-66).

ISU leaned on its two upperclassmen all season.

They just played awesome, said Tank. Thats two really good rounds by our most experienced players. They just stepped up in a big way and delivered.

Sophomore Collin Foster picked an opportune time to record his career low as a Cyclone with a 4-under 68. Foster was 1-over through seven holes, but ignited his round with a deuce on the par-4 eighth hole. He finished the tournament tying for 26th with a 54-hole 216 tally (75-73-68).

Freshman Ruben Sondjaja added a solid 70 today to finish the tournament in a tie for 17th at 212 (72-70-70). Freshman Jack Carter also clocked in with a 73, eight shots better than his scores in the first two rounds.

Tank was extremely pleased with the total team effort.

It was really satisfying to see everyone play so well today, said Tank. I have been hoping for a round like this all year where it really clicks. For it to actually happen on the most important day of the season is so rewarding.

The ISU men will now join the Cyclone women golfers as participants in the NCAA finals. The ISU women secured their first-ever berth at the national tournament last weekend by tying for sixth at the NCAA West Regional. ISU is one of just 11 schools in the nation with both mens and womens golf teams participating in the NCAA finals: Iowa State, Alabama, California, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington.

Team Scores
1. Oklahoma State 272-287-272=831
2. Arkansas 288-270-277=836
3. Missouri 281-280-276=837
4. Iowa State 293-286-270=849
LSU 289-286-274=849
6. Arizona State 291-285-282=858
7. Virginia 285-303-276=864
8. San Diego State 294-288-284=866
9. Iowa 291-294-284=869
10. Denver 300-301-283=884
11. Middle Tennessee State 301-292-292=885
12. Ohio State 308-303-276=887
13. Loyola (Md.) 308-294-286=888
14. Bryant 316-316-296=928

Iowa State Scores
T6. Scott Fernandez 72-71-66=209
T17. Ruben Sondjaja 72-70-70=212
T17. Sam Daley 74-72-66=212
T26. Collin Foster 75-73-68=216
T72. Jack Carter 81-81-73=235

Top Individuals
1. Emilio Cuartero, Missouri 70-70-65=205
2. Jordan Niebrugge, Oklahoma State 65-73-68=206
Hunter Kraus, Missouri 68-69-69=206
Talor Gooch, Oklahoma State 67-73-66=206

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