Reb golfers got the call they were waiting on

They gathered at the home of their head coach, Ernest Ross, Monday evening. The Ole Miss men's golf team of 2006-07 knew they would play again, but they wanted to hear it officially.

The East Regional, one of three regions in NCAA Tournament golf, was the first to be announced. That field of 27 teams will play May 17-19 at The Golf Club of Georgia in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta.

"The 12th seed is Mississippi," said the voice on speaker phone. The Rebels now knew for sure.

"We already knew we were in; we were told we were in. But it's always great to hear it," said Ross, the Grenada native who is leading an Ole Miss men's golf squad into the NCAA tourney for the third time. The first two were long ago now, back in his first tenure as head coach of the Rebels.

His 1984 team, SEC champs that year, finished 20th in the nation when all was said and done. The next year the Rebels finished fourth in the country and led the whole thing with a few holes left but didn't seal the deal.

Still it was an impressive finish in 1985, but two years later Ross would leave his alma mater for a career as a golf professional, which is what he had done prior to becoming head coach at Ole Miss the first time around.

In 2004 when the job opened again and after the Rebels had only been in the NCAA Tournament twice since he left (1999 and 2001), Ross returned. In his third season, the Rebels are playing in the postseason again.

"It's a tough field," Ross said of the East Regional. "Hey we've got to start with some upsets somewhere, so we'll just jump right in and see what happens."

The East Regional lineup is the following along with the seedings:

1. Georgia

2. Clemson

3. Florida

4. Coastal Carolina

5. Georgia Tech

6. Georgia State

7. Charlotte

8. North Carolina

9. Florida State

10. Duke

11. Auburn

12. Ole Miss

13. Chattanooga

14. Alabama-Birmingham

15. Central Florida

16. Virginia Tech

17. Penn State

18. Old Dominion

19. Jacksonville State

20. Louisiana-Lafayette

21. St. John's

22. Eastern Michigan

23. Maryland

24. Longwood

25. Rhode Island

26. Hartford

27. Boston College

UM assistant coach Jonathan Dismuke, a former All-SEC golfer at Auburn, said the Rebels have improved a lot this season.

"If you look at the development these guys have made this year, it's been great," he said. "It's been rewarding seeing them improve mentally, physically with their golf swing, and physically as far as their fitness. They've come a long way this year."

The other golf regionals are the Central, played near Chicago, and the West, played near Phoenix. The top 10 teams from each of those three regionals will play in the National Championship Tournament scheduled for May 30-June 2 at Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va.

Eight SEC teams are in the field. Ole Miss joins Georgia, Florida, and Auburn in the East Regional; Alabama and Tennessee are in the Central; Vanderbilt and South Carolina are in the West.

"I'm excited we're going to be playing in Georgia since it's close by," said senior Rebel Chris Rogers. "I think we'll have some fans there. It's a strong region, and some of the best teams in the nation are there. This is my fifth year here, and we've come close before. It's a great way to end my college career."

Rogers' senior teammates concurred.

"We've been so close the last two years, it's a relief to finally get in," said Brice Bailey. "I'm not sure that this year's team has played - all of us - really well together at the same time. If we do that, we can go deep in this tournament. We have the talent."

"Our ultimate goal coming into this season was to make regionals, especially not having made it the past two years," Callum Macaulay said. "Everybody on the team has known that if we play to our potential and as a team, then the scores would take care of themselves. We believed all along we could get there."

And now they have.

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