Courtesy of Arkansas Athletics
Playing a hot hand, Arkansas head coach Brad McMakin put senior Luke Long in the anchor position for the Razorback's SEC Match Play title match against Vanderbilt and it paid off handsomely.
Coming off his first victory at The Blessings Collegiate last week, the senior from Fayetteville delivered the decisive point to lift third-ranked Arkansas to a 3 and 2 victory over No. 15 Vanderbilt in the inaugural SEC Match Play Championship held at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala.
Long rallied for a 2 and 1 victory over Vandy's Reid Davenport to deliver the title to Arkansas, which won the team title at The Blessings Intercollegiate on their home course last week by 13 strokes.
Wil Gibson and Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira earned two points for Arkansas with convincing 5 and 3 victories while Vanderbilt's points came courtesy of Cole Sherwood and Michael Shears. With the match hanging in the balance, all eyes went to the Long-Davenport match.
Long found himself two down to Davenport after eight holes but won the next four holes in succession to turn the match around. Davenport cut the lead to one by taking the 13th hole, only to see Long regain his 2 up lead with a par on the 15th. The two players halved the next two holes with pars, giving Long the 2 and 1 victory and the title to the Razorbacks.
The Razorbacks went 4-0 in the event, defeating Mississippi State (3-2-0), Ole Miss (3-1-1), LSU (3-2-0) and eventually, Vanderbilt, which defeated Arkansas in last year's SEC Championship match on St. Simons, Island, Ga.
It marks the first time Arkansas has won twice in one season since 2018-19 and the first time the Razorbacks won consecutive outings since the Spring of 2012.
“This week, we were able to carry over the momentum from our win at the Blessings Collegiate," said head coach Brad McMakin. “(Associate head coach) Barrett (Lais) and I were extremely proud of the effort of each player this week. They all performed at a high level. The quality of golf we played this week was nothing short of exceptional.”
“My hat’s off to Arkansas," said Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh. "We knew that it would take our best today. They are a really great team and a really great match play team.
"You come to events like this to replicate, hopefully, what you’re going to get in the spring and championship season.”
Arkansas and Vanderbilt Athletic Communications contributed to this report.
View results for SEC Match Play
ABOUT THE SEC Match Play
Men's college match play tournament, with
each team match consisting of five individual matches.
A player match win is worth 1 point, and a tie is worth
1/2, and the winning team is the one with the most
points in the five player matches. 36 holes of match
play on day one, with 18 holes being played on days
two and three.
View Complete Tournament Information