By Roger Moore, NCAA.com
STILLWATER, Okla. (June 3, 2011) -- Looking for a story?
UCLA, one of the favorites at the 2011 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, was the No. 1 seed after finishing at the top in stroke play. Duke didn’t pay too much attention to that.
Need another tasty morsel?
Augusta State won the 2010 NCAA Championship just outside Chattanooga, Tenn., beating the favored Oklahoma State Cowboys in the final match. The host of the 2011 Championships is Oklahoma State. Who meets in one of Saturday’s semifinals? Oklahoma State and Augusta State.
Then there’s Georgia, the 2005 champions, who knocked off Illinois on Friday.
Collegiate golf fans should fasten their seatbelts.
“This is what we’ve talked about all year,” said Augusta State senior Carter Newman, who beat Georgia Tech’s Paul Haley 3 and 2, to help the Jaguars advance to Saturday’s semifinals with a 3-2 win against the Jackets. “This is what you practice for. We knew we were going to be here for nationals. This is why you play. To play against the best on their home course with not a lot of people rooting for you, it’s going to be fun.
“It would be nice to back up last year’s win with another one to prove, like some have said, that it wasn’t a fluke.”
Augusta State also got victories from Patrick Reed, 3 and 2 against James White, and Mitchell Krywulycz, who beat Kyle Scott 1-up.
Oklahoma State winning championships has never been a fluke. The program has claimed 10 national titles and entered this season as the favorite pick by most prognosticators. In 2009 the Cowboys lost in the quarterfinals to Georgia. A year ago the highly-touted Cowboys fell to Augusta in a down-to-the-wire affair.
Duke was the champion at March’s Callaway Collegiate Match Play, beating Texas, East Tennessee State, Southern California and Illinois in the final match.
Kevin Tway, Talor Gooch and Sean Einhaus each picked wins for the hosts with Peter Uihlein and Bo Haig finishing even in Oklahoma State’s 3-1-1 victory on Friday. The Buckeyes, coached by former Cowboy assistant Donnie Darr, got a win from Dan Charen but OSU edged into the final four for a second consecutive season.
“There is some incentive, of course, but we weren’t preparing for our second-round match,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw. “We were trying to win our first match. Ohio State was the underdog, there is no doubt about it, but those are hard to win, especially when you’ve got five guys who are really hard-fighting kids coached by somebody who I feel is the best coach in college golf, period.
“What do they say in college basketball? Survive and advance? That’s what we did today.”
No question the environment will be special on a Saturday at Karsten Creek.
“It’s going to be juiced up but that is what we expected,” added McGraw. “We hoped to get some fans out here and we’ve done that. People don’t work on Saturdays around here so we hope to get some out to watch some great golf.”
Tway lost to Krywulycz in 19 holes in the clinching 2010 match.
“It’s a rematch from last year,” said Tway. “We didn’t get it done last year but this time it’s on our home course. It’s going to be fun.
“I know it’s clichéd, but it’s about one shot at a time at this point.”
Uihlein has played some big rounds of golf in his young career. He won the 2010 U.S. Amateur and teed it up at the 2011 Masters early this spring.
“Just another round of golf,” said Uihlein with a smile. “[Augusta State] is the favorite. They are the national champs until somebody knocks them off. You try and play every round like it is your last. I just want to go out and play as hard as I can and hopefully get a point for the team.
“Today was fun. Tomorrow is going to be fun.”
“We came here with high expectations,” said ASU coach Josh Gregory, whose team beat Tech in last year’s quarters as well. “Having everybody back it was still really tough [Thursday]. We battled through and then we had two guys win No. 17 today.
“I think we’ve always played pretty care-free and I really think these kids feel like they have something to prove, wanting to show that last year wasn’t a fluke. We’ve been dreaming about this match-up all year.”
For Duke, winning match play events is nothing new. The Blue Devils beat Illinois in the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championships in March. On Friday, head coach Jamie Green’s troops beat the Bruins 3-1-1. Only UCLA rookie Patrick Cantlay tasted victory, beating Brinson Paolini, 1-up.
The eighth-place finisher in stroke play, however, got victories from Tim Gornick, who pasted Pontus Widegren 6 and 5; Wes Roach, who beat Gregor Main 3 and 1; and Austin Cody, who bested Alex Kim 3 and 2.
“We had a lot of fun out there today,” said Cody, a freshman from North Charleston, S.C. “It was nice to see Tim get up pretty big early and see a couple guys up, including myself. I just knew that if I could come through that we would only need one more match. It was nice to see Wes clinch it today. I was impressed with the way we all played.”
Georgia beat a good Illinois team Friday 3-1-1. Bryden MacPherson, Russell Henley and Harris English all won matches, Henley beating 2010 NCAA medalist Scott Langley 4 and 2. English clinched it for coach Chris Haack’s squad with a 3 and 2 victory against Luke Guthrie.
“Duke won a match play title earlier this year so we know we have our hands full,” said Haack. “We actually have some inter-squad match play championships before our first tournament in Puerto Rico every year. The winner gets an exemption into the Puerto Rico tournament. I think the more match play you play the better.
“I’ve got an experienced team that’s all played this format. That obviously helps at this point.”
Haack knows Saturday will be tough.
“We are probably an underdog,” said Haack. “(Duke) ran over a pretty good UCLA team today so that shows you how they are playing right now.”
Three of the four squads remaining have won NCAA championships.
Duke and Georgia tee off at 11 a.m. ET.
Oklahoma State and Augusta State tee off at 11:45 and you can bet the galleries will be juiced up just a bit.