Golfer Chris Selfridge made a bold move three months ago, one that could not have been rectified with a mulligan had it gone awry.
His gamble? He booked a flight.
No University of Toledo player since 2004 had qualified for NCAA regionals, and Selfridge bet on himself to break the trend. The sophomore from Northern Ireland bought a plane ticket home for the end of May — rather than the beginning — confident he would be toiling on American fairways until then.
His reading of the lie was spot on. Selfridge learned this week he is one of 10 individuals who will play in a regional hosted by Ohio State starting Thursday. The field also is comprised of 13 teams and will be played on the University Golf Club’s Scarlet Course.
Selfridge, who finished runner-up this month at the Mid-American Conference tournament, will be the first Rocket to appear in the postseason since Toledo qualified for regionals as a team in 2004.
Selfridge, a native of Castledawson, Northern Ireland, figures he saved a couple hundred bucks by booking his flight in advance. But finances were not his primary motivation.
“At that point, I was in a strong position and I felt I had a good chance,” he said. “I just went for it and felt like I might as well put some pressure on myself.”
Selfridge’s strong MAC showing reinforced his postseason chances. The 2012 conference freshman of the year carded a one-over par 289 to spearhead Toledo’s second-place finish. He closed the regular season with eight-straight Top 10 finishes, and landed the regional berth by virtue of ranking third among individuals not on a qualifying team.
Fourteen years earlier, Selfridge’s coach participated in a regional on the Scarlet Course. Jamie Broce advanced to the nationals, where he attained third-team All-America accolades.
“He’s by far way ahead of where I was when I was in college,” said Broce, who played at Ball State.
Ending Toledo’s postseason drought ranks high but not at the top of Selfridge’s achievements. That distinction belongs to the title he won last May at the Irish Amateur, an event whose past winners include PGA notables Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, and Rory McIlroy. Selfridge, not considered among the favorites, took an early lead that he never relinquished and won by three strokes. Checking in from afar was Broce, who was weeks away from being announced as the new UT coach.
“I knew Chris was a good player and when I heard he won that tournament, that was pretty cool," said Broce, previously an assistant at Indiana.
Selfridge will try to defend his title beginning June 8 at Connemara Golf Club. First, though, he has some business stateside. Selfridge concedes, “it will be very hard” to get out of regionals because only the top scoring individual not among the top five teams will move on.
Nationals are slated for May 28, one day after Selfridge is set to fly home.
“If I qualify for nationals, I’ll have to make a new reservation,” he said.
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