ALPHARETTA, Ga. (UCFAthletics.com) - The UCF men's golf team saw a very successful 2012-13 season come to a close Thursday at the NCAA Championship. The Knights were in contention to advance to the match-play portion of the tournament for much of the three days of stroke play, but fell just a bit short.
A penalty for slow play enforced at the end of his round cost Greg Eason a stroke and a tie for runner-up honors. But despite the penalty, Eason brought home a position in the top-10. He ended his third round at even par, but was +1 with the penalty. Eason played 54 holes at the Capital City Club-Crabapple Course with just one bogey.
He also didn't let the penalty bother him, instead choosing to focus on his three-day experience at the NCAA Championship. His tie for eighth was an improvement over last year's tie for 13th.
"I can't complain at all, actually," Eason said. "I played good golf all week. If anyone would have said to me at the beginning of the week I could take one bogey, I'd have definitely taken that. I had a great week. I played a lot of sensible, smart golf. I was pleased with the way I was able to manage myself and the ball around the course. It was a very difficult course. It was great to be in contention with some great players."
UCF head coach Bryce Wallor said Eason's play this week is all a function of him growing up as a golfer.
"It really speaks to the maturity that has developed with him," Wallor said. "He's learning to play smart golf, learning to attack when he can, learning to be conservative when he needs to be."
As a team, the 31st-ranked Knights finished tied for 16th. The Knights would have been tied for 14th without the penalty stroke. Either way, it was an improvement from last year's 19th-place finish. Wallor was very pleased with the season and how his team performed this spring.
"A big success," Wallor said. "From the way this season started, we certainly came together and developed as a team. We had a really nice run this spring, had some really good finishes and had some victories over some very strong, tradition-rich programs."
Included in that list of victories over solid programs were a number this week at the NCAA Championship. UCF finished in front of 10 higher-ranked teams and eight Top-20 squads in Atlanta. Included in that list were No. 3 UCLA, No. 10 TCU, No. 11 Florida, No. 12 USC, No. 14 Georgia, No. 17 LSU and No. 18 North Florida.
"I'm really proud of my guys," Wallor said. "They made a great effort. They worked really hard. Not making the match play is one thing, but this is really a great finish for our university and our team."
Junior Jose Joia finished tied for 22nd at -2 for the tournament, after shooting an even-par 70 Thursday. Freshman Michael Visacki, the team's No. 5 golfer, helped keep the Knights in contention for much of the day. He finished 2-over on the day. Juniors Ricardo Gouveia and Kyle Wilshire rounded out the UCF lineup.
With four juniors and one freshman taking part in the NCAA Championship this year, Wallor can't help but look toward what should be a bright future for the UCF men's golf program.
"If we're lucky enough to have this whole group back next year, we'll have a very strong group of young men who have been in these experiences and played well," Wallor said. "We look to add some good players next year and hopefully we can have an even better season."