FAYETTEVILLE STATE'S JACOB BARGE QUALIFIES FOR NCAA D-II CHAMPIONSHIP

FSUBRONCOSDOTCOM FSU's Jacob Barge
FSUBRONCOSDOTCOM
FSU's Jacob Barge
FSUBRONCOSDOTCOM

May 9, 2012

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BY ALEX PODLOGAR

HERSHEY, Pa. - They rode along in silence. Cramped in a rented passenger van early Wednesday morning, the streets still wet from two days of rain, they sat next to each other, riding along unfamiliar roads 472 miles from home.

There was pressure in the van. It was evident, but it was not felt among all of the players. Not individually, anyway. The team score had become mostly irrelevant by that point, and the silence, had it been considered born solely out of disappointment, would have been misinterpreted. Some of it came from despair, surely, but there was fatigue in there as well. The sun had only shone for a few minutes, after all, and it had been a grueling two days on the golf course.

Pressure, though, was a significant part of this all-encompassing hush. Fayetteville State golfer Jacob Barge, riding in the back seat with teammate Mike Wallace, would soon step onto the East Course at Hershey Country Club for the third and final round of the NCAA Division-II Atlantic/East Super Regional. When he left the 18th green less than 24 hours earlier, he was tied for 30th. By the time he would step out of the van onto the damp pavement, he stood tied for fourth.

A berth in the NCAA Championship was within his grasp, and he knew it.

So he did what any nervous guy does. He whipped out his cell phone.

Suddenly, the silence snapped. A voice rinsed with gravel broke the stillness.

"The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game every minute, every second."

Pouring out of Barge's phone was the voice of actor Al Pacino, giving the climatic speech in the film "Any Given Sunday." The Broncos had watched the clip before, most recently before capturing Fayetteville State's 26th CIAA Championship last month. Barge remained silent, watching the YouTube clip, soaking in each and every word.

The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game every minute, every second.

"The scene is about just fighting for everything you can," Barge said. "You just have to keep fighting and fighting."

That's just what Barge did, shaking off an unsteady stretch of holes in firing a 4-over 75 in the final round to finish fourth and clinch one of two individual berths into the NCAA Division-II National Championship.

"It's just unbelievable," said Barge, who competed in the National Junior College Championship a year ago. "There's nothing but joy in me."

Far from silent any longer, Barge could revel in his accomplishment. But he had to earn it.

Standing on the 10th tee, his 17th hole of the day after the shotgun start, Barge was moments from qualifying for the NCAA Championship. He had been brilliant through his first eight holes, playing them in even par and rocketing up the leaderboard into a tie for second.

But then he bogeyed three straight. Barge managed a birdie on the par-5 sixth, but two more bogeys on the next three holes dropped him to 4 over on the day, 13 over for the tournament. One more dropped shot, and a berth in the NCAA Championship could be gone.

Just like that.

"The golf course is hard, but for those few holes, I just wasn't thinking," Barge said. "I was pretty shaky and nervous."

The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game every minute, every second.

The 10th hole featured one of the tougher pin placements of the regional. And after pulling his approach shot on the left fringe, Barge was faced with a 70-foot putt for birdie. He rolled it 8 feet past the cup.

He took a look at the break.

"What's interesting is, when you talk about inches, the break was about an inch break right to left," Barge said of the momentous par putt. "I hit it right on line at the right speed, and it was dead center."

The 420-yard par-4 11th was next, Barge's final hole of the regional. Teammates had let him know where he stood on the 10th tee, and so another par figured to be enough. Then Barge pulled his drive into the woods.

"I tried a hero shot, and got pretty lucky," he said of punching out of the woods. "I got within about 40 yards in front of the green and hit a littler spinner, leaving me about 16 foot short of the hole."

Barge read the line, and addressed the ball.

The inches we need are everywhere around us. They are in every break of the game every minute, every second.

"I hit it right where I wanted to," Barge said. "I figured it was a putt I needed, and I did. "I had a nice little fist-pump after that one."

Moments later, the third and final round finally official on the rain-soaked 6,984-yard course that gave every team fits, Barge could celebrate qualifying for the NCAA Championship, which will be played from May 15-19 at the Cardinal Golf Club in Louisviille, Ky.

"I am ecstatic to represent Fayetteville State," Barge said. "It's been an amazing first year here. I got a call earlier - I made 3.5 (grade-point average), I made nationals - what a crazy week. It's just a great, great feeling."

Fayetteville State saved its best performance for the final round, turning in its lowest team score of the regional with a 311. The Broncos finished tied for 13th as a team with three-day total of 960, just 15 strokes behind fifth-place St. Thomas Aquinas, the last team to qualify for the national championship.

The Broncos' Brandon Jobe (Fr., Fayetteville, N.C.) shot a 6-over 77 to finish in a tie for 52nd at 241 while Jedidiah Frazier (So., Havelock, N.C.) had a 7-over 78 to tie for 71st at 246. Lincoln Jackson (Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.) carded an 81 in his final collegiate round to finish in a tie for 86th at 251 while Wallace (Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.) added a 97.

Wilmington-Deleware's Paul Tighe matched the low round of the day with a 72 to win the regional wire-to-wire at 4-over 217, eight shots ahead of Indiana University of Pennsylvania teammates Brad Boyle and Zack Kempa.

Wilmington was also the team wire-to-wire winner, topping Indiana Pa., by six strokes.


 

 

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