Arkansas men's golf (Arkansas Athletics photo)
NORMAN, OK (May 16, 2018) - It’s never over until it’s over.
Third-seeded Arkansas saw its season on life support entering the final round in 10th and eight off the top-five cut to advance. But the Razorbacks fired a closing 8-under 280, jumping six spots to a tie for fourth at 3 under for an incredible comeback to reach nationals.
William Buhl posted a near-flawless 5-under 67 for a clutch final round and Alvaro Ortiz overcame an opening double bogey (and another one later in his round) to fire a closing 3-under 69. The senior made an eagle and five birdies to counteract those pair of doubles. Ortiz led the way for the week with a tie for 12th at 2 under, while Buhl posted in a tie for 18th at 1 under. Tyson Reeder (T-33, 3 over) had a closing 71 and Mason Overstreet (T-39, 5 over) finished with a 73. Luis Garza (final-round 77) finished in a tie for 50th at 8 over.
It was an interesting week for the Razorbacks, who actually started strong with an opening 288. That put them in a tie for second before a Tuesday disaster dropped them to 10th. Kudos to a strong final round for an impressive comeback.
This will mark Arkansas’ 21st appearance in the NCAA Championship and allows Overstreet to come back to an event where he finished as a runner-up a year ago playing as an individual.
This also means the Razorbacks have produced a stunning comeback in back-to-back events. Arkansas was in 11th entering the final day of stroke play at the SEC Championship but jumped to a tie for fourth by round’s end (with the top-eight finishers in stroke play making match play at the event).
Arkansas will look to be more steady in Stillwater, but the key point here? The Razorbacks are indeed going to nationals.
Oklahoma sure played like the host No. 1 seed it was. The Sooners went wire-to-wire in capturing its fifth regional title in school history. The defending national champions are heating up at just the right time. Oklahoma will now enter enemy territory in Stillwater having won Big 12s and its regional site. Let the rivalry sizzle.
BYU solidifies its spot into nationals with a day’s best 10-under 278 to finish in a tie for second. It’s the seventh-seeded Cougars’ second straight 278 and has them cruise to NCAAs after sitting T-9 through 18 holes at regionals. A reminder: BYU’s no-Sunday-play rule will affect its scheduling from the rest of the field at NCAAs.
Pepperdine goes from risers to those out of luck. A day after posting a day’s best 14-under 274 to rocket from T-9 to second, the sixth-seeded Waves close with a 7-over 295 to drop to eighth and miss out on nationals. The silver lining is Joshua McCarthy played well enough for the Waves to have an individual representing them at NCAAs.
The folowing teams and individual advanced to the NCAA Championship:
- Oklahoma, BYU, North Florida, Auburn, Arkansas
- Joshua McCarthy, Pepperdine
ROUND TWO RECAP
More was certainly expected of sixth-seeded Pepperdine than sitting in ninth place through 18 holes. Well, did the Waves ever stomp down that early disappointment Tuesday.
Pepperdine fired the day’s best round by four shots with a 14-under 274 to rocket into solo second at 7 under. The host and top-seeded Sooners remain in front at 9 under, but they have company for the regional title now with the Waves lurking.
It was a birdie barrage for the No. 6 seed on Tuesday, as three Waves starters had seven apiece. Overall, the quintet combined for 27 birdies on the round.
Joshua McCarthy led the way with a bogey-free 7-under 65 to jump to a tie for third at 7 under. Sahith Theegala also moved into a tie for third with a nearly identical scorecard, posting seven birdies and one bogey for a 66. Clay Feagler (T-19, Even par) and R.J. Manke (T-53, 6 over) fired rounds of 71 and 72, respectively.
Heck, Roy Cootes, the non-counting score on the day with 74, was one of the Waves players with seven birdies. A triple, two doubles and two bogeys blunted those birdies (Cootes is T-49 at 5 over).
A return trip to the NCAA Championship that seemed so elusive for the Waves on Monday is so tantalizingly close a day later.
The challengers can do what they want, but the Sooners are taking no prisoners on their home course. Oklahoma is in position for a wire-to-wire win as well as sweeping team and individual titles. Blaine Hale leads the individual race by one at 8 under.
Seventh-seeded BYU posts a 10-under 278 to move up five spots to a tie for fourth at 3 under. What happens if the Cougars do advance as projected? Remember, the women’s team made the NCAA Championship two years ago, and with BYU having a strict policy of no competition on Sunday, that meant an altering of the Cougars’ schedule from the rest of the field at NCAAs. BYU still has to advance through, but something to keep in mind if the team does.
Florida State, the No. 4 seed, came through with a solid 4-under 284. But the Seminoles still find themselves in sixth place. They are four back of the projected cut.
Third-seeded Arkansas had a miserable Tuesday. The Razorbacks plummeted from second to 10th with a 5-over 293. Only three teams posted worse rounds on Tuesday. Arkansas is eight shots back of the projected cut.
ROUND ONE RECAP
It took 28 years for Oklahoma to win its second NCAA Division I National Championship. They don't want to wait as long to get their third. On Monday, they took the first step toward defending their title, shooting a 5-under 283 to take a five-shot lead in the NCAA South Central Regional at Jimmie Austin/OU Golf Club.
Blaine Hale, a junior from Dallas, TX shot a bogey-free 5-under 67 to take the individual lead by two shots over his teammate, Quade Cummins, and William Buhl of Arkansas.
It's a scary thought for the other teams in the field that the OU able to take the lead despite their top two players shooting 75. Brad Dalke, who made the winning putt in last year's championship triumph, struggled as did Grant Hirschman. But on practically any championship team, players one through five can be practically interchanged and the Sooners showed that in round one.
Arkansas, Auburn and North Florida shared second with rounds of even-par 288. Auburn was led by Ben Schlottman and Trace Crowe with 70s, while North Florida's Andrew Alligood and Travis Trace shot the same score.
While scoring was low in most of the other five NCAA regional sites, conditions were tougher at Jimmie Austin. Only three scores were in the 60s, and two of those were by the host team. The key for most teams was to avoid counting a high score in their top four. Every team in the field but Arkansas had to count at least a 75 in their team score.
Two unranked teams have put themselves in good position to finish in the top 5 and advance to the NCAA Championships at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, OK. San Diego State shot a 2-over 290 to hold the fifth spot, while 119th ranked Missouri Kansas City is currently tied for sixth with #22 Florida State at 5-over 293.
Five players are competing as individuals, led by McClure Meissner of SMU, who shot 70 to sit tied for fourth. The low individual not on an advancing team will make the NCAA Championship as an individual competitor.