(Blaine, Wash.) – For the third time in school history UMKC men’s golf will head to the NCAA Tournament as the ‘Roos won their first ever WAC Men’s Golf Championship after firing a -12 in the three day event at Loomis Trail Golf Club to defeat Seattle by 16 shots.
“It’s always a great feeling, walking up 18 with the lead is the best feeling in golf,” Head Coach J.W. VanDenBorn said. “We had a really good strategy of trying to win each day and we were able to do that. The guys played great and were resilient. We made some mistakes today but they bounced back every time. These guys have worked hard and believed in our strategy and it paid off. It’s a great feeling.”
Senior Antoine Rozner led the UMKC charge, as the senior was crowned individual champion after finishing at -12, one of only two individuals to break par in the tournament. Rozner started the day slow playing the front nine at even par, carding his lone birdie on the par-5 6th, but ramped it up at No. 11 as the Paris, France, native eagled the par-5 for the second straight day. Rozner followed with back-to-back birdies on No. 12 and No. 13 to put the individual title away.
“It’s an awesome feeling to make the NCAA Tournament,” Rozner said. “Last year I went as an individual, but going with your teammates and friends is so different. We are going to be competing against the best teams in the nation, but it will be a lot of fun. We have a good team and all five guys can really play. Freshman year, I came so close, so this is a good personal accomplishment.”
“It’s bittersweet because we don’t have Antoine for much longer,” VanDenBorn added. “He will leave huge, huge shoes to fill. To win it as a freshman and now as a senior is a great accomplishment and he is going to affect our program for years to come. It’s been fun to watch him mature and develop over these four years.”
Joining Rozner in the red was teammate and runner-up finisher Francois Lagraulet who ended the championship at -5. Rozner’s countryman tied his teammate for the low round of the day with a 69 that vaulted him to second place and featured five birdies, including his third straight on No. 2 and his second straight on No. 11 after a first round eagle.
“I’m proud of our team,” Lagraulet said. “As a freshman, this is the first win for me and the first conference championship for most of our team. Now let’s do something good at the NCAA Regionals.”
Jakob Garstecki recorded the ‘Roos third top-10 finish, placing in a tie for sixth at +2 after a final round 74 that included birdies on the par-3 5th, No. 11 and the par-4 15th, while Thibault Vieilledent finished one shot back in a tie for ninth. Vieilledent tallied five birdies over the final 18 holes including back-to-back birdies on the No. 10 and No. 11.
Cameron Wiltse carded the ‘Roos final score, finishing with a 78 that placed him in a tie for 29th. During the round, the ‘Roo senior finished with three birdies, on No. 4, No. 11 and No. 15.
Previously, the ‘Roos have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2013 after winning The Summit League Tournament.
For Rozner, this is his sixth individual title, leaving him one shy of Robert Russell’s school record seven, while his four titles this season tie Russell’s four from the 1996-97 season for the most all-time.
The ‘Roos total score of 852 stands as the eighth best score in school history and Rozner’s 204 is tied for the seventh best individual mark all-time by a Kangaroo.
The Blue & Gold will now wait to find out their destination for the 2016 NCAA Regionals on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. CT when the NCAA Selection Show airs on Golf Channel.
“The NCAA will be strong and the players will be good,” Rozner said. “We will have to focus on our own games. The other players are not any better to us, so if we focus on each and every shot, we will be fine.”