The University of Louisville men’s golf team will hit its pinnacle this week as the Cardinals travel to Arkansas to compete in the NCAA Championship on May 24-29 at the Blessings Golf Club in Johnson, Arkansas.

The trip to the NCAA Championship will be Louisville’s fourth all-time and the first since the squad finished 14th in Eugene, Oregon during the 2016 season. S

Louisville will be the No. 21 seed and will play with No. 19 North Florida and No. 20 Pepperdine for the first two rounds of the tournament, which will take place Friday and Saturday.The Cardinals outlasted North Florida at the Louisville Regional on May 13-15, defeating the Ospreys by one stroke

The Cardinals will tee off at 7:12 a.m. CT off of the first hole Friday and at 12:32 p.m. on the 10th hole Saturday.

“I told our players to just embrace the opportunity,” head coach Mark Crabtree said. “This why you wake up in the morning for an opportunity like this. We are just going to out there and play. I’m happy for the guys. They deserve it for the year they have had.”

The Cardinals will be one of seven teams in the tournament that won’t have a senior in their lineup. Louisville will send Matthias Schmid, one of top players in the nation as its No. 1 player. The Germany native carried the Cardinals to the championship by nearly winning the Louisville Regional. Schmid fired a 6-under-par 207 to finish in a tie for second. He owns seven top-five finishes and owns the school’s single-season stroke average at 69.81.

“I’m excited for this opportunity,” Schmid said. “We know we have a great challenge in front of us, but we are looking forward to it. We’ve been able to see some of the golf course and understand it poses a difficult challenge.”

Juniors Devin Morley, Trevor Johnson and John Murphy will be in the lineup, along with freshman Jiri Zuska. Senior Simon Zach will serve as the alternate.

The Cardinals are looking to better their 10th-place finish, which was accomplished in 2008 behind the play of Adam Rainaud and Derek Fathauer.

Louisville advanced to the championship after holding on last week on its home course. The Cardinals, who ended play at 7-over-par for the week, fired a 4-over 288 Wednesday to finish fourth overall.

The outcome was in doubt until the end when Murphy connected on a 10-foot birdie putt to send the Cardinals to the next round.

They posted a school-record 11 top-5 finishes this season and lead the nation in birdies and eagles. Louisville picked up its lone win at the Old Town Collegiate and also posted five second-place endings.

by Rocco Gasparro

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