CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – After claiming on Friday night that it would be raining birdies on Saturday, Lipscomb’s Dawson Armstrong backed up the boast with seven en route to a -7, 65 at the NCAA men’s golf Chapel Hill regional at the UNC Finley Course to tie for second place.
“I’m kind of in shock still,” said Armstrong. “Sadly, I’m more disappointed than I am happy because I always want to do the best I can. I hate losing more than I love winning. Shooting 65 was really good and it brings a lot of attention to Lipscomb and myself, but my goal coming in was to make it to nationals and I didn’t quite do that.”
After teeing off on the 10th hole in the 54-hole event, Armstrong birdied holes 11, 12 and 18 on the back nine. The Brentwood native then opened the front nine with a birdie on one and then put himself in contention to win the tournament with birdies on five, six and seven.
“Today felt about the same as it did yesterday. It felt the same tee to green but I saw some lines better on the greens. I had some better speed on the green and some putts actually fell.”
That also put the reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Freshman of the Year in contention to advance to the NCAA Championships, but Western Carolina’s J.T. Poston was able to win a two-hole playoff to move on to Orlando as the top individual finisher not on one of the top five teams.
“Unfortunately, the speed on the greens the first two days was a little inconsistent,” said Lipscomb head men’s golf coach Will Brewer. “Today the speed was much better. Dawson hit the ball closer three or four times too and that helped him out today.
“He made a couple of birdie putts and got him some good momentum which he maintained and kept his rhythm. We work a lot on that. During competition if we can maintain our focus and rhythm typically good things will happen. It just didn’t happen the first two rounds but today it came together.”
The Brentwood native finished the tournament with a -7, 209 (72, 72, 65) to finish just two shots behind Stanford’s Maverick McNealy, the No. 1 ranked player in the country by both Golfweek and Golfstat, who finished with a nine-under, 207.
“Knowing that I was one shot off of qualifying for nationals is very frustrating,” said Armstrong. “I’ve never really lost the drive to get better and this definitely doesn’t hurt it. This makes me want to do well so much and I want to prove everyone wrong.
“I want to prove to them that we as Lipscomb can do big things and that me as a player can do big things. I want to show that hard work pays off and no matter how many punches get thrown at you, you have to keep on going.”
Armstrong finished the event as the top freshman and his 65 on Saturday was the low round of the three-day event for any player.
“I’m really proud of Dawson and I’m excited about the future,” said Brewer. “It’s providing him and our university a chance to be much more relative and our brand is growing exponentially because of our success. People are seeing that and they’re seeing the effort and energy. Dawson is a big part of that along with the rest of our guys that have been working hard all year.
“It’s like watching somebody grow. If you don’t see them every day you don’t necessarily see the growth as dramatic as someone who doesn’t see them for five or six months. I think this program has grown exponentially over the last two and half years. If we can make the same amount of growth over the next two years, we will be knocking on a lot of doors.”
Charlotte took home top team honors in the event to advance to the NCAA Championships along with Stanford, Florida State, Florida and Clemson.