It'll be Oklahoma and Oregon in the NCAA Championship Final
SUGAR GROVE, IL (May 30, 2017) - Facing a vocal crowd that had come out strong for their opponents, the University of Oklahoma knocked off the University of Illinois to advance to the final of the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms.
They will face the defending national champion Oregon University, who defeated Vanderbilt University in the other semifinal match.
Playing in what amounted to an away game against the in-state school located just over two hours away, the Oklahoma did exactly what they had to do to quiet the crowd--they got off to a fast start. Three of the five Sooners won the first hole, and four led their matches heading to the back nine.
But an Illinois comeback seemed inevitable, and the tide started to turn on the back nine, led by Nick Hardy who turned a two-hole deficit into a two-hole lead in just five holes starting at the tenth. Giovanni Tadiotto, who had erased a deficit in his morning quarterfinal match, closed from three down to one down with three to go. Michael Feagles won the fifteenth to get to two down.
Illinois could get no closer, however, and when Tadiotto drove wildly at the seventeenth, his match was over with Oklahoma's Max McGreevy earning a critical point. Blaine Hale had already eliminated Edoardo Lipparelli of Illinois, and when teammate Rylee Reinerston held off Feagles at the seventeenth, the Sooners were through to the final.
The other semifinal, between the number one match play seed Vanderbilt University and the defending national-champion University of Oregon, was much tighter.
Each side had one blowout win. Theo Humphrey of Vanderbilt put away Oregon's Ryan Gronlund early, winning the first five holes en route to a 5&4 win. Wyndham Clark of Oregon won three straight holes starting at the eleventh to take control of the match and defeat Will Gordon, 4&3.
Freshman Norman Xiong titled the match toward the Ducks with a 4&2 win over Vanderbilt's Patrick Martin. That put the focus on the John Augenstein vs. Edwin Yi match, with Oregon's Yi taking the lead with three holes to go after Augenstein rinsed his second shot on the fifteenth, and Augenstein squaring the match again one hole later. With each player making clutch par putts on seventeen and birdie up-and-downs on eighteen, Augenstein took the match in dramatic fashion by rolling in a 35-footer from just off the green on the nineteenth hole to square the matches 2-2.
Everything then came down to the final match of the day between Matthias Schwab of Vanderbilt and Sulman Raza of Oregon. Raza, who made the NCAA championship-winning putt last year for the Ducks, took the lead in a tight match with Schwab at the twelfth, and remained 1 up until the final hole. At the reachable par five, he put the heat on Schwab with a 6-iron to 20 feet, and when Schwab couldn't pitch in from behind the green, a two-putt birdie gave Raza and Oregon a spot in the finals.
With the win, Raza is now 5-0 in NCAA Championship matches and will surely be in teh anchor match for the Ducks during the final.
Oklahoma and Oregon will play the championship match on Wednesday morning, as both schools seek their second overall title. Oregon will attempt to become the first repeat champions since Alabama in 2014, while Oklahoma will try to win their first since 1989.
In the morning matches, Baylor University seemed to have a stranglehold in their match with the University of Oklahoma. Midway through the round, Baylor golfers led all five of their matches. The first two, Cooper Dossey and Braden Bailey, did close out their opponents, Blaine Hale and Max McGreevy. But the other three all shot three over on the back nine and saw their leads disappear.
That's when Oklahoma took the opening and ultimately the match. Rylee Reinertson birdied the seventeenth to go one up and held off Garrett May of Baylor on the eighteenth to win 1 up.
Grant Hirschman eagled the par-five eighteenth to win 1 up over Hunter Shattuck. Then, with the matches tied 2-2, Brad Dalke overcame losses on the final two holes in regulation to win the nineteenth and send the Sooners through to the semifinals.
USC also let a lead get away against the University of Illinois. At the turn, three Trojans had multi-hole leads, but back-nine comebacks by Giovanni Tadiotto (from 2 down to a 1 up win)
and Dylan Meier (from 3 down to all square) turned the matches and gave Illinois a 3-1-1 win.
In the other quarterfinals, after nearly losing a three-hole lead it all came down to a four-footer for Theo Humphrey and Vanderbilt to eliminate UNLV, 3-2.
The defending national champions Oregon rounded out the morning winners, taking out Oklahoma State 3-2.
ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Championship
30 teams and 6 individuals not on a qualifying
team make up the field for the championship of
Division I women's golf.
After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual
champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance
match play to determine the team champion.
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