Edwin Yi has accomplished what no other Oregon men’s golfer could this season: a trip to the NCAA championships. Yi’s spectacular performance at the NCAA regionals gives him the opportunity to end his college career with an individual national championship.
Yi will participate in the NCAA national championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas, against 155 of the top collegiate golfers in the country. The first round of the tournament begins Friday, May 23. If Yi qualifies, he will participate in the final round of the individual championship that will conclude on May 29.
Yi punched his ticket to the championship tournament by playing top-flight golf throughout the seven NCAA regionals rounds, where Yi finished as runner-up. He finished the course going 14-under par and on 202 strokes over the course of the three day tournament.
“I played well, I hit a lot of fairways, which led to a lot of greens which led to a lot of puts and birdies,” Yi said.
His performance far exceeds that of his teammates, as Oregon finished the regionals in seventh place.
“Everyone did their best but it didn’t work out,” Yi said. “The course didn’t fit some of us and the course will bite you.”
Yi’s path to the championship course came with many challenges. He started the season hot but suffered a severe ankle sprain midway through the year. The sprain affected his golf and he struggled for around a month before regionals.
“I finally played at my level,” Yi said.
Rehabilitation on his ankle is just one aspect of Yi’s tournament preparation. This includes watching the Oregon women’s golf team play, specifically Oregon women’s golf senior Kathleen Scavo, who played the Fayetteville, Arkansas, course last week at nationals, tying for 23rd.
The course, by reputation, is one of the most challenging in the collegiate circuit. The course is long and hilly. For preparation, Yi has been practicing with long irons and taking long-range reps. Yi cannot afford to fall behind early in the tournament.
Instead of the full team making the trip, Yi will only be accompanied by head coach Casey Martin and assistant coach Brad Lanning.
“It will different for sure,” Yi said. “I’ve been traveling with the guys on the travel squad. I can be more aggressive and playing for myself which is rare in college golf.”
However, the solo trip will help Yi prepare for his future career in professional golf. After college, Yi will tour with PGA Canada after he earned his status to participate in their tournaments. In the PGA system, nothing is guaranteed for players and is a big leap from collegiate golf, where all players who make the team have the chance to participate in tournaments. Yi’s goal is to eventually make it to the U.S PGA tour.
But, Yi will have one more tournament this weekend to close out his collegiate career. Yi is only one of six individuals to participate in the tournament without their team qualifying. Yi will have a unique opportunity for individual glory.
“Winning is important but I want to enjoy my last college event with my coaches and make it as memorable as it can be.”