LIVE SCORING (Courtesy Golf Stat)

NEW YORK – The 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship gets underway this Thursday with the start of the six regional tournaments commencing. The Ivy League Champion Columbia Lions will be in action at the San Antonio Regional, joining 12 other teams and 10 individuals for the 54-hole event that runs from Thursday, May 15 – Saturday, May 17.

The regional format is a 54-hole tournament over three days with the five lowest scoring teams from each of the six regionals advancing to the NCAA Championships at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas from May 23-28. The top individual at each regional that is not a member of the five qualifying teams will also earn a spot at the NCAA Championships.

Columbia punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a commanding victory at the Ivy League Championships held at Baltusrol Golf Club just over two weeks ago. At Baltusrol, Columbia caught the attention of spectators and the other competitors, carding a team score of 276 to surge into first place by 11 strokes in the second round and then held off Yale on the final day for the title. The Lions’ second round score was the third-lowest team score in program history and was 13 strokes lower than any other team at the Ivy League Championships.

Junior Brandon Jowers and sophomore Harrison Shih, both first team All-Ivy League selections, have led Lions throughout the year. Jowers, the Co-Ivy League Player of the Year, has the best scoring average on the team at 71.73. The Shalimar, Florida native has scored in the 60’s in six of his 22 rounds and placed in the top-10 in five of eight tournaments. Shih carries a 72.41 scoring average into the NCAA Regional, having carded five rounds in the 60’s this year. The Saddle River, New Jersey native has three top-five finishes this season.

Senior Andrew Kim has been in integral contributor to Columbia’s success, posting a 74.27 scoring average to stand third on the team. Kim has been a model of consistency on the golf course, varying just eight strokes from his lowest score this year, 69, to his highest, 78.

The remainder of the Columbia lineup is comprised of five first-years. Christopher Chu and Tharusyan Pillay were on the course at Baltusrol, finishing tied for 15th and 24th, respectively.  Chu, with 19 rounds of action under his belt, has a 74.58 scoring average and tied his lowest round with a 68 on the second 18 at the Ivy League Championships. Pillay has progressed well during his rookie campaign, concluding the season with a ninth-place finish at the Ivy League Championship, earning him second team All-Ivy League honors.

Arjuna Anday has the fourth-lowest scoring average on the team at 74.27 over 15 rounds, while J. Christian FitzGerald and Mert Selamet each holds averages just under 76 strokes per round.

The golf is expected to be fiercely competitive at Briggs Ranch, as four of the top-20 teams in the nation help make up the 13-team field. No. 6 Georgia and No. 7 Central Florida were selected as the top seeds, while No. 16 UCLA edged out No. 15 Vanderbilt to earn the three seed. South Florida earned the fifth seed in San Antonio, sporting a No. 30 national ranking, with No. 31 SMU coming in as the sixth seed.

The Peach State is represented in the Lone Star State by seventh-seed Georgia Southern and eighth-seed Georgia State. TCU is the closest school to San Antonio and earned the ninth seed, while Northwestern, College of Charleston and Virginia Commonwealth rounding out the field.

Georgia is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Southeastern Conference Championship, trailing the nation’s consensus No. 1 team, Alabama, by 27 strokes at the end of the three-day tournament. UCF finished just five strokes back of SMU at the American Athletic Conference Championship back on April 29. USF wrapped up play at the AAC Championship in fourth place.

UCLA and Vanderbilt each struggled at their respective conference tournaments. The Bruins claimed seventh at the PAC-12 Championship, while the Commodores finished 11th at the SEC Championship.