UC's Squires ends NCAA tournament run with program's best ever individual finish
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WKRC) - University of Cincinnati sophomore Austin Squires (Union, Ky./Ryle High School) concluded his NCAA Tournament run Wednesday with the best postseason finish by a Bearcat in school history, carding a final-round 3-over par 75 to tie for 21st place at 7-over 72-76-75=223 at the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex (Kampen Course) in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Squires climbed five spots in the individual standings Wednesday despite windy conditions. He started his day on the back nine and moved to 2-under through seven holes thanks to a pair of birdies. However, a bogie on the 17th hole and a double bogey on the 18th hole offset his strong start. A pair of bogeys on No. 4 and No. 7 were the only blemishes on his scorecard from his play on the front nine. He ended the day with two birdies and 12 par scores.
“Today was very difficult because of the wind,” Squires said. “It was a day where placing the ball in the right position on the course was very important. I did that very well on some holes and not as well on about four holes. All in all, I’m not too disappointed with today’s play.”
Squires finished six strokes behind Illinois State’s Trent Wallace (finished seventh at 1-over 68-70-79=217), who advances to the NCAA finals as the top individual not on one of the five teams moving on from the West Lafayette regional. New Mexico’s Andrej Bevins (3-under 71-68-74=213) and Illinois’ Nick Hardy (3-under 71-72-70=213) shared medalist honors.
UNLV won the team title, finishing at 8-over 287-286-299=872. Auburn (11-over 292-287-296=875), Illinois (14-over 288-296-294=878), New Mexico (16-over 288-282-310=880) and host Purdue (18-over 292-287-303=882) also advance to the finals, May 26-31, at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.
“Other than maybe four or five holes this week, I don’t Austin would take anything back,” UC head coach Doug Martin said. “Finishing in the top 25 is very admirable.”
“I learned quite a bit this week that will help me in the future,” Squires said. “A lot of weaknesses were exposed but my strengths were on display too.
“I played well the first round and didn’t have my best stuff during the second and third rounds,” Squires said. “To still finish in the top 25 is very encouraging. I know now that when I have my best stuff I’ll have a chance to win.”
Wednesday’s round brought to an end a stellar season for Squires. The sophomore earned American Athletic Conference Player of the Year accolades as the only league player with six top-5 finishes. Highlights from his season included a win at the Firestone Invitational on Oct. 4 and a tie for fifth at the American Championship on Apr. 25. He climbed the national rankings throughout the season finishing among the top 150 players thanks in part to posting 11 top-25 finishes in 13 events. He ended his year with a school-record 71.92 stroke average.
Squires’ appearance at the NCAA Tournament is significant for the Bearcats program. He becomes just the fifth Cincinnati player selected to participate in the event and the first since David Tepe took part in the 2013 NCAA Tournament after qualifying automatically by winning the BIG EAST Championship. Squires joins Tepe along with George McManis (1965), Geoff Hensley (1969) and Jon Nichols (1974) in the select group of Bearcats to play in the national tournament.
“He’s allowed the rest of team to see what it takes to get to this level – the work and discipline that it requires,” Martin said. “Others now see the formula. It’s my hope that next year we’ll be able to bring four other teammates here with him and compete as a team in this event.”
// TEAM STANDINGS
1st – UNLV – 287-286-299=872 (+8)*
2nd – Auburn – 292-287-296=875 (+11)*
3rd – Illinois – 288-296-294=878 (+14)*
4th – New Mexico – 288-282-310=880 (+16)*
5th – Purdue – 292-287-303=882 (+18)*
T6th – Augusta – 296-290-299=885 (+21)
T6th – St. Mary’s (Calif.) – 294-296-295=885 (+21)
8th – Florida – 292-287-312=891 (+27)
9th – South Carolina – 291-302-302=895 (+31)
10th – Campbell – 306-300-297=903 (+39)
11th – Richmond – 297-306-303=906 (+42)
12th – Colorado – 304-308-298=910 (+46)
13th – Cleveland State – 310-299-305=914 (+50)
* - Team advances to NCAA Finals
// INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST
Andrej Bevins, New Mexico – 71-68-74=213 (-3)
Nick Hardy, Illinois – 71-72-70=213 (-3)
// INDIVIDUAL ADVANCING TO FINALS
Trent Wallace, Illinois State – 68-70-79=217 (+1)
Information courtesy UC Athletics