PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. (May 31, 2012) -- After three grueling rounds at Riviera Country Club, seven teams have moved on to the match play portion of the 2012 NCAA Championship while two more --- Kent State and Florida State --- will play in a Friday playoff for the final spot. Alabama led wire-to-wire during the stroke play portion of the event, finishing two shots ahead of UCLA to earn the top seed heading into Friday's first round of match play.
Led by Cory Whitsett (73-68-71--212, T-4th individually) and Justin Thomas (70-70-73--213, T-7), the Tide literally rolled from Day 1. A terrific effort from all five members have Alabama sitting pretty after a stellar regular season.
UCLA, thanks to a resurgence by the world's top-ranked amateur player Patrick Cantlay, is the No. 2 seed. Cantlay managed a 5-under 66 on the final day of stroke play to will himself back into the individual race following early struggles (74-72-66--212, T-4). Teammates Pedro Figueriedo and Anton Arboleda, the first-round leader, are three shots behind tied for 13th.
Texas, despited major struggles in the first round by star Jordan Spieth finished third heading into match play. Dylan Frittelli (72-72-72--216, T-21) and Juio Vegas (72-73-71--216, T-21) picked up Spieth's slack before the Texan fired a 2-under 69 in Thursday's final round.
San Diego State, Cal, Washington and Oregon round out the remaining four teams heading into the match play portion of the team event, awaiting the eighth team, to be decided early Friday.
Thomas Pieters of Illinois maintains a three-shot lead in the individual race. He followed rounds of 69 and 68 with a 71 Thursday and is three up on TCU's Julien Brun (72-72-67--211) and Tyler McCumber of Florida (68-71-72--211), who are both tied for second.
Cantlay is tied for fourth and within striking distance while alongside other contenders like Whitsett and Thomas of Alabama, Auburn's Blayne Barber (69-74-70--213, T-7), Cal's Max Homa (76-70-68--213, T-7) and Stanford's Patrick Rodgers (69-72-73--214, T-9).