May 14, 2013
NCAA Fayetteville Regional
ARLINGTON, Texas – Paul McConnell couldn't imagine a better finish to his UT Arlington career than teeing it up at the NCAA Regional this week in Arkansas. Well, there is better end to that dream.
Think Baltimore Ravens and Super Bowl.
"It would be really special to go to the NCAA national championships," McConnell said. "The one thing I think about is Ray Lewis. He kept talking about retiring and they kept winning games. It was almost like fate that they were going to win.
"That would be really special for me to almost do something like that and win nationals."
McConnell qualified for the Fayetteville Regional, which runs Thursday to Saturday, by claiming individual medalist honors at the Western Athletic Conference Championship. The Dallas native is UT Arlington's fifth conference champion.
In addition to the WAC title, McConnell claimed the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic during the 2011-12 season and the San Diego Intercollegiate in 2010-11. He was also part of UT Arlington's 2011 Southland Conference team championship.
The Arkansas field is deep with talent, but McConnell likes his chances. While not exactly having a home-course advantage, McConnell does have ties to Arkansas. His father, Dean McConnell, graduated from the University of Arkansas in the mid-1970s.
"My wins have always been even-par," McConnell said. "Something about your mental side really has to be strong and I feel I have a strong mental side when I'm playing well. That's kind of how it's fallen in the tournaments I've won."
Blessing Golf Club, site of the regional, is a tough but fair layout that rewards pars. That's McConnell's game.
"When he's on he's one of the best in the nation," UT Arlington coach Jay Rees said. "The only thing that's held Paul back is he gets a little sidetracked. Anytime he can shoot par or better that helps Paul. Anytime par is a good score that bodes well for Paul.
"He has the all-time most wins with UTA with three. He's leaving here with two championships. Nobody has ever left UTA with two championships."
Why not make it three?
NCAA REGIONAL TOURNAMENT FORMAT
- Format is 54 holes of stroke play. Four scores per round count toward each team’s total.
- One round will be contested each day.
- Top five teams and top two individuals (not associated with an advancing team) advance to the NCAA Championship
Fayetteville Regional Teams:
3. Oklahoma State
5. Kent State
12. North Carolina-Wilmington
14. Alabama State
Fayetteville Regional Individuals:
1. Chris Gilbert, Kansas
2. Mitchell McLeroy, Stephen F. Austin
3. Pep Angles, Central Arkansas
4. Patrick Newcomb, Murray State
5. Paul McConnell, UT Arlington
BLESSINGS COURSE INFORMATION
Location: Fayetteville, Ark.
Fairway/Rough Grass: Zoysia
Greens: Bent grass
Designer: Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Championship History: 2012 SEC Women's Championship
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