The unmatched career of ACU senior golfer Alex Carpenter came to a heartbreaking end Wednesday evening as he and his teammates failed to qualify for the NCAA Division II national tournament in two weeks in Hershey, Pa.
The Wildcats finished tied for 11th in the team standings, while Carpenter finished tied for sixth in the individual standings. The top five teams in the final standings at the NCAA Division II West / South Central Region Tournament qualified for the national tournament and the Wildcats weren't among that group.
ACU opened the tournament Monday with a strong 287 and was in third place after the opening 18 holes, but things quickly went downhill Tuesday with a second-round 298. The Wildcats rallied somewhat with a third-round score of 289 on Wednesday to finish at 874, but that still left them 11 strokes behind the fifth-place team, Cal State-Stanislaus, and out of the running in terms of a bid to the national tournament.
Cal State-Monterey Bay won the regional tournament with a three-round total of 854 (279-286-289), followed by Western Washington at 855 (283-286-286) in second, Grand Canyon (Ariz.) in third at 856 (288-283-285), Colorado-Colorado Springs in fourth at 861 (289-282-290) and Stanislaus in fifth at 863 (288-290, 285).
Carpenter's career came to an end in cruel fashion as he finished tied for sixth at The Home Course. Carpenter finished one shot behind Dalen Yamauchi of Hawaii-Hilo for fifth, and because Yamauchi was on a team that didn't qualify for the national tournament, he earned the second wild-card individual berth to the national tournament.
Carpenter carded rounds of 71-72-69 for a 54-hole total of 212, while Yamauchi went 70-67-74 for a three-round total of 211. Carpenter had his chances, but he bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4 on the front nine Wednesday, and despite an eagle on the par-5 16th he bogeyed the par-4 15th to leave him at 3-under-par 69 on the day.
Kyle Schrader of Western Washington won the individual title at 10-under-par 206 with Kevin Witte of CU-Colorado Springs in second at 8-under-par 208. Eric Ash of Sonoma State (Calif.) took the first wild card berth with a three-round total of 6-under-par 210.
Carpenter finishes his ACU career with 20 victories, which is believed to the NCAA career record, surpassing the old record of 16 set by Phil Mickelson. Carpenter – the NCAA Division II Freshman of the Year in 2010 and NCAA Division II Player of the Year in 2011 – is a frontrunner for Player of the Year honors again this season after he won five tournaments on the season, including four straight in the spring.
Information for this story provided by ACU Athletics.