The celebration was on for Kentucky (UK photo)
BRYAN, TX (May 16, 2018) - Kentucky head coach Brian Craig gathered his team Tuesday evening in Bryan, Texas, for a 10-minute meeting. The Wildcats were 10 shots back of the fifth spot heading into the final round of the NCAA Bryan Regional.
“I told them the truth,” Craig said. “Ten shots are a lot of shots.”
“We only had two teams in front of us,” Craig added. “One good round on that golf course and you can leap-frog people. … I told the guys, there’s no need to do anything crazy. We don’t need to be taking any unusual risks. We just need to execute better and just play our games.”
His team listened, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything crazy. Senior co-captain Tyler “Chip” McDaniel shot 4-over 40 on the front nine before shooting 5-under 31 on the back with four birdies and a walk-off hole-out eagle from 118 yards. He also holed a 20-foot par save on the 17th hole.
After hitting a 330-yard drive to setup his eagle on the par-4 18th hole, McDaniel was met at his ball by Craig.
“I told him, ‘Everything’s OK, just keep playing,'” Craig said. “He looked at me and goes, ‘Where do we stand?’ I told him he needed par, patted him on the back and walked away. … He was in the zone. You could see it in his eyes.”
McDaniel’s wedge shot landed a few feet past the hole and spun back into the bottom of the cup.
“The celebration that those guys had was a memory for a lifetime,” Craig said.
The Wildcats finished fifth, grabbing the final NCAA Championship ticket by three shots over Ole Miss, which had three players shoot 78 or worse Wednesday and posted a combined score of 6 over on the final two holes from its counting players.
Kentucky, which won four times this season, now advances to the NCAA Championship for the third time in five years. Last year at regionals, the Wildcats missed a playoff by one shot, culminating a difficult week that began when Delta lost Fred Allen Meyer’s golf clubs and the then-sophomore had to play with a rental set.
“This feeling is literally a 180-degree turn from that feeling,” Craig said.
“I’m just tickled to death for these seniors and this team to get to play in the championship because, honestly, they were too good to not be there.”
Host and top-seeded Texas A&M won by nine shots for its sixth victory of the season, but first since Feb. 27. Phillips’ win was his fourth individual title of the season.
A season after missing out on regionals because of the .500 rule, UCLA is heading back to the NCAA Championship.
Baylor, which lost to eventual national champion Oklahoma last year in NCAA match play, finished third behind a seventh-place finish from Cooper Dossey, who missed the first four events of the spring because of injury.
Doc Redman finished T-2 to lead Clemson to a runner-up team finish.
The folowing teams and individual advanced to the NCAA Championship:
- Texas A&M, Clemson, Baylor, UCLA, Kentucky
- Braden Thornberry, Ole Miss
ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Southwest Regional
54 hole men's NCAA Regional from which the
teams advance to the NCAA Championship.
View Complete Tournament Information