It was Boomer Sooner at the NCAA Championship
SUGAR GROVE, IL (May 31, 2017) - Oklahoma University won the NCAA Division I National Championship, holding off the defending national champion University of Oregon at Rich Harvest Farms.
"This is so special," said coach Ryan Hybl after being presented the trophy on the seventeenth green. "I'm just so happy for our guys, our former players that have helped build this program... It's just awesome. Our guys fight, they grind--it's Oklahoma golf."
The Sooners, seeking their second-ever championship and first since 1989, got off to the start they needed, taking control of the first two matches and pouring on the pressure that ultimately finished off the Ducks.
Sophomore Blaine Hale went out in the first match for Oklahoma against Norman Xiong of Oregon. Xiong, who earlier in the day won the Mickelson Award for the nation's best freshman, got off to an early lead but Hale was able to flip the match in his favor by winning four of six holes starting at the fifth. A twenty-footer for par capped a 4&3 win for Hale.
Oklahoma's Max McGreevy followed suit, taking early control of his match with Edwin Yi, going three up through five and never letting Yi threaten his lead afterward. McGreevy ultimately won 3&2.
McGreevy, a senior playing in his final college round, described to the Golf Channel before the round what the day would mean to him: "It's going to be emotional. Everything that I worked for a really long time... Everything has fallen into shape in four years. The guys that have been on our team have been able to stick with the program and mesh together and that's what is going to make it very hard being my last round."
With two points on the board for the Sooners, the pressure was on for Oregon to sweep the other three matches, which were all tight.
Wyndham Clark, who transferred from Oklahoma State to Oregon this year, responded by making an eagle on the final hole to beat Rylee Reinertson 1 up.
Ryan Gronlund, who was so instrumental in Oregon's charge just to make the match play field, forged a two-up lead over Grant Hirschman with a huge drive and a pitch on the fourteenth.
But before that match could be decided, it would all come down to the final match of the day, between two match play stalwarts.
Sulman Raza entered the day with a perfect 5-0 NCAA Championsip match play record for Oregon, and had the memory of holing the championship-winning putt for the Ducks last year. Oklahoma's Brad Dalke won every match but one in last year's U.S. Amateur, which earned him a trip to the Masters earlier this spring.
Dalke jumped to an early lead with wins on the first two holes, but Raza came back to square the match after ten. Raza's game began to fade on the back nine, however, and Dalke stepped up and methodically grinded out the match, winning twelve, fourteen and fifteen and ultimately holding off Raza 2&1.
For Dalke, the key was embracing the pressure. "I love it," he told the Golf Channel. "If you have pressure on you, it means that something good can happen, a chance to do something special... I love pressure. Bring it on."
Head coach Ryan Hybl made note that Dalke's position in the lineup was no accident.
"I put him there for a reason," said the 8th year coach after his second national championship. "He came up big against Baylor, and he came through again today."
Dalke is just the latest in a long line of Oklahoma Sooners in his family. His grandfather, Ken Pryor, was a three-sport athlete at OU in the 1940s and led the Sooners to the national championship game in basketball. His mother was a member of the first women's golf team at OU and was the first female athlete in school history to be offered a scholarship.
And like his father Bill, he now has a national championship. Bill Dalke played linebacker on the 1975 OU national champion football team.
Oregon made a remarkable defense of their title, first traveling to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana regional where they managed to advance from a field full of southern schools, and then having to come up big as a team just to make the final 8 for match play.
The Ducks started the final stroke play round in 13th place but turned in the low round of the day, a 293, to get inside the top eight. They all came up clutch on the final hole, with Sulman Raza first getting up and down. Then Edwin Yi rolled in a 12-footer for par. Norman Xiong followed with a 15-footer for birdie. And Ryan Gronlund topped it off with his fourth birdie in a row to finish and send the Ducks through.
Oregon was attempting to become the first repeat champion since Alabama in 2014.
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.
View Complete Tournament Information