ShareThis Page

Robert Morris golfer prepares for NCAAs

| Thursday, May 19, 2011

There was little typical about C.G. Mercatoris' path to the NCAA Division I men's golf championships.

So it's fitting Mercatoris, a senior at Robert Morris, and his coach, Jerry Stone, drove from Pittsburgh to Cleveland to catch a flight to Erie.

Erie, Colo., that is.

Mercatoris, the Northeast Conference champion, is competing at Colorado National Golf Club today through Saturday in one of six NCAA regionals that will pare the field for the NCAA Division I finals.

"I kind of expected them to send me nowhere close," Mercatoris said Tuesday following a warm-up round in Denver's mile-high atmosphere. "But I'm excited. It will be fun to get out there."

Mercatoris, who averaged 72.9 strokes per 18 holes this season, is the first Robert Morris golfer to reach the NCAA tournament.

The 54-hole regional, held just north of Denver, features 13 teams. The field is led by top-ranked Oklahoma State, plus an additional 10 players, including Mercatoris, who qualified with automatic bids or at-large selections.

Penn State senior T.J. Howe received an invite to the Virginia Tech regional, where he is the No. 1 seed.

The low five teams and the low individual player not on one of those teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA championships May 31-June 5 at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.

Mercatoris didn't get serious about golf until his sophomore year at Brookville High School and missed last year's NCAA regionals by one stroke after blowing a lead in the NEC tournament with three holes to go.

"To come up one shot short was disappointing," Mercatoris said, "but at the same time, it made me work harder to get where I want to be."

Mercatoris got there by winning this year's NEC title with a 1-under-par 215 at ChampionsGate G.C. on April 29-May 1 in Orlando.

Now he's back to being a longshot. Mercatoris is the lowest-seeded individual at the Colorado regional and is ranked No. 485th among Division I golfers by

"He doesn't bomb it off the tee, but he's got as good a short game as there is," said Stone, an 11th-year coach. "He puts it in the ground and he figures he can beat those guys. We didn't come out here for nothing."

The Colorado regional includes Oklahoma State's Peter Uihlein, the No. 1-ranked amateur golfer in the world, along with top-25 teams Auburn and Georgia, traditional powers Arizona State and Clemson and multiple top-100 ranked college golfers.

Mercatoris has golf in his blood. His cousin, Nathan Smith of Brookville, is the No. 7-ranked amateur in the U.S. and No. 18 in the world.

The 6-foot, 160-pound Mercatoris isn't a huge hitter - the thin Rocky Mountain air notwithstanding - and will count on his short game on a 7,676-yard layout that includes a 696-yard par 5.

"The fairways are as important as anything," he said. "You don't have to hit 300 yards off the tee to score well."

Additional Information:

At a glance

C.G. Mercatoris

School: Robert Morris

Class: Senior

Notable: First golfer from RMU to qualify for the NCAA Division I men's golf tournament

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.