Local golfer Pinckney leads ASU to NCAA Championships

A local athlete has led the Arizona State men’s golf team back to the NCAA Championship Finals, marking the Sun Devils’ ninth straight trip to the Finals.

Scott Pinckney fired a 4-under par 68 in the third and final round of the South Central-Colorado Regional Saturday to move up the leader board, jumping from sixth place to finish in second place.

The effort also kept alive his college career, as the senior from Boulder Creek High School in Anthem gets ready to close out a solid run with one of the top golf programs in the nation.

ASU is one of just eight teams in the nation to qualify for the past four NCAA Championships.  And the Pac-10 school is one of just four teams who have made the NCAAs in each of the last nine seasons.

Pinckney’s final-round surge gave the No. 24 Sun Devils a 3-under final round of 285, putting them into an overall tie with Georgia and earning them a berth in the Finals, which will be held in Stillwater, Okla., at the end of the month.  The top five teams in regional play advance to the Championships.

The squad’s total for the three days was a 7-under par 857.

Pinckney, a four-year captain at Boulder Creek who was ranked in the nation’s top 20 prep golfers when ASU snagged him, had five birdies and just one bogey on the final 18 holes to enable him to finish just one stroke short of tying Oklahoma State’s Kevin Tway for individual medalist honors.

This was his highest finish in the three NCAA Regionals in which he has participated.  Over the course of the season, he had five top-10 finishes, a career-best.

A  little farther down the board was another ASU golfer with roots in Arizona.  Philip Francis, a junior from Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, also shot a 4-under par 68 in the final round to secure a top-20 finish.

Francis, who carded five of his 14 total birdies in that final round, catapulted from 46th to 16th place on the last day, finishing with a 1-under par 215.

“Scott and Philip’s play was spectacular (on the final round),” said the Sun Devil head coach, Randy Lein.  “We needed a spark out there and they provided it.”

Also contributing to the weekend’s success were a trio of seniors that include another Notre Dame Prep recruit.  Jesper Kennegard tied for 24th (even par 216); James Byrne finished in a tie for 56th (6-over 222); and the Notre Dame grad, Thomas Buran, closed out tied for 69th (13-over 229).

(Photo: ASU Athletics)