Earning a fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance and a second Sun Belt Conference title in four years highlighted another remarkable season for the Georgia State men's golf team. It was a season that started with the lowest round in school history and ended just short of another NCAA Championship appearance.
For a fourth-straight season, the Panthers qualified for NCAA Regional play, traveling to Louisiana for the Baton Rouge Regional for the second time in program history. On arguably the toughest course the Panthers played all year, GSU finished ninth to miss out on advancing to the NCAA Championship for the sixth time in program history. However, the squad returns four of the five starters in the line-up next season and has a talented group in the wings.
The Panthers reached postseason play following an impressive performance at the Sun Belt Championship in Miramar Beach, Fla. After finishing in a tie for third place in the stroke play portion of the event, Georgia State topped No. 1-seed Troy 4-1 in the match play semifinals, setting up a finals match with in-state rival Georgia Southern. In a hard-fought match, the Panthers topped the Eagles 3-2 as junior Alex Herrmann earned redemption on the 18th Hole from a tough three-putt a year earlier.
“Overall, it was a good year,” head coach Joe Inman said. “We had some remarkable moments, but we also felt as though we could have done more. We struggled to put together three great rounds really in any tournament all year, but seemed to have one or two very good ones each tournament. I think that is just part of the learning curve of college golf. I love that fact that we will return four starters to the line-up next year. They understand what it takes to win and want to push us back to the NCAA Championship.”
The season started on a record-setting high note as the Panthers shot a school record 18-under 270 in the opening round of The Invitational on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Alex Herrmann and Nick Budd each shot 66, while Nathan Mallonee added a 68. Herrmann would go on to finish in third place in the event following a second round 68, but the Panthers struggled in the final two rounds and finished seventh.
After finishing 12th in the inaugural Maui Jim Intercollegiate in Arizona, the Panthers returned home for the Autotrader Collegiate Classic at Berkeley Hills Country Club where the squad finished fifth. Mallonee tied for 16th with three rounds of par or better, while Max Herrmann tied with his teammate.
One of the highlights of the year came at the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate as Nick Budd won the first event of his career shooting impressive rounds of 67-69-68 to lead Georgia State to a ninth place finish.
The Panthers concluded the fall by making their first trip to Hawai'i in seven years, finishing tied for eighth at the Ka'anapali Collegiate Classic as Mallonee recorded another top 25 finish.
The spring opened with a bang as Alex Herrmann won the Mobile Intercollegiate to pick up his first career win, leading Georgia State to a fifth place finish. Herrmann's tournament was highlighted by a second round 67.
Georgia State earned another fifth place finish at the Tiger Invitational presented by Jason Dufner to open March as sophomore Nathan Williams recorded a full-field career-best tie for 16th, shooting a second round 69.
The Panthers headed west for the third time during the season and finished sixth at the Bandon Dunes Invitational as Max Herrmann started a streak of three-straight tournaments with a top 12 finish, tying for sixth place.
From there it was time to head to South Carolina to finish the month of March at The Hootie at Bulls Bay. The Panthers earned another fifth-place finish as Mallonee placed ninth following an opening round 67 and Max Herrmann tied for 12th.
Georgia State returned to the 3M Augusta Invitational the weekend prior to The Masters and placed ninth in a loaded field, finishing just one stroke back of Georgia. Max Herrmann continued his strong play with a tie for eighth following three-straight rounds of 70.
The Panthers then returned to Florida for the Sun Belt Championship and got off to a great start shooting a 6-under 278 in the opening round to lead. However, things got bumpy in round two as GSU shot 301 and midway thru the third round found themselves in eight-place. Just when they needed it, things began to click on the back nine as GSU climbed the leaderboard to reach match play for a second-straight year. Mallonee earned a career-best tie for sixth in a conference championship, while Budd tied for 10th.
Following the championship, Alex Herrmann earned All-Sun Belt First Team honors for a second-straight year, while Mallonee garnered second-team honors and Budd grabbed third-team recognition.
After the NCAA Regional, the Panthers bid adieu to lone senior Nathan Mallonee. He finished his career with the third-most rounds of par or better (56) in program history and with a 73.52 scoring average that ranks 10th in the school's history book.
Georgia State will look to make a sixth NCAA Championship appearance in 2018, ending the season at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. The season will get underway in early September.