JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After finishing in a tie for 15th at the South/Southeast Regional, Tom Forster (Oundle, England) prepares to compete as an individual in this week's NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships Finals at The Shoals Golf Club in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, taking place May 21-25.
The last Eagle to qualify for the NCAA Men's Golf Championship was Brad Robinson in 2008. He was second in the Southeast Regional to be the top individual qualifier in his sophomore season before taking a 45th place finish in the final. Carson-Newman has never had an individual champion at the national level.
He heads into the championship with a 72.07 adjusted scoring average through 29 holes of play, according to Golfstat. In the group's most recent player rankings released on Saturday, he landed at 30th in the nation.
Forster will be advancing to the final without the rest of his Eagle teammates after C-N tied for ninth in the regional. The Eagles landed at 19th in the nation in the final regular season Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll and were 18th in Golfstat's rankings on Saturday.
"I'm sad the boys couldn't come with me because, at the end of the day, that's what I wanted," Forster said. "If we don't have that, it doesn't feel as good going there but I'm happy I'm going."
Forster finished one-over par at the highly contested regional with a three-round score of 214. The sophomore opened the tournament with a stupendous 67 that gave him a share of the lead before falling to into a tie for second in the second round with a -1 day of 70. The final round of the event saw Forster face one of his toughest days of the year, carding a six-over round of 77 that featured a trio of birdies that were overshadowed by a couple of double bogeys and a triple bogey on hole 18.
"Tom hit a few shots that were fairly unusual for him, a couple of wild shots, so we probably just need to solve that puzzle because he had not been doing that all spring," head coach Randy Wylie said, "We'll kind of work on the mechanics of that and see if we can't get that ironed that out and try to go down and have a great finish at the national championship."
Joining him in the national championship as an individual qualifier from the regional is Newberry's Carlos Leandro. Like Forster, he landed in a tie for 15th by the end of the three-day event after a two-under final day, his best outing of the tournament.
108 participants will be making the trek to Alabama for the championship hosted by the University of North Alabama. Reigning champion No. 2 Florida Southern looks to retain its title while West Florida's Chandler Blanchet, the No. 3 player in the nation, will be defending his individual tile. The past two individual medalists have come from the South/Southeast Regional while 22 team champions from the regional have been crowned national champions in the past 24 years.
The championship opens on Monday at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at the Shoals, Fighting Joe Course, a 7,407-yard course that holds a 72 par.
The last time Forster played on this course was at the 2017 NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships South/Southeast Regional. Playing as a freshman, he ended the event in a tie for eighth with a two-under 214 total.
The national championship will span across five days. An individual national champion will be crowned on Wednesday after 54 holes of play while teams will be looking to find their way into head-to-head medal play that will start on Thursday for the top-eight teams in the field after the opening rounds. A semifinal and final will conclude the tournament on Friday.
Live scoring for all rounds of play can be found through Golfstat. Recaps of Forster's progress will follow each round on cneagles.com.