Courtesy of the Jackson T. Stephens Cup
The inaugural Jackson T. Stephens Cup provided the perfect blueprint for teams with national championship aspirations come springtime – get through stroke play and have success in match play.
The Notre Dame men’s team and LSU’s women’s team worked the plan to perfection for the last three days at the Alotian Club in Roland, Ark., where both teams claimed team championships as top-seeds after rolling the field over 54-holes of stroke play.
The 17th-ranked Fighting Irish, which earned the top seed by a 20-stroke margin over host Arkansas, downed the third-ranked Razorbacks on Wednesday, 4-1-0, to claim the Stephens Cup men’s team title, while LSU turned back sixth-ranked South Carolina by the same margin to win the women’s championship.
Taichi Kho, Davis Chatfield, Palmer Jackson and Andrew O’Leary accounted for the Irish’s four points, with O’Leary delivering the championship point with a 1 up victory over medalist Mateo Fernandez de Oliveria.
O’Leary, a senior from Norfolk, Mass., rallied from a two-hole deficit through 13 holes to defeat the Argentine, who won the Stephens Cup individual title in a three-hole playoff over Notre Dame’s Jackson on Tuesday.
O’Leary cut the lead to one with a birdie on the par-5 14th and then tied the match with a par-3 on the 15th. After the players halved the 16th hole, both had short birdie putts on the par-5 17th. After Fernandez de Oliveria’s putt missed its mark, O’Leary converted his birdie putt to take his first lead in the match. Both players halved the final hole, giving the match and the championship to O’Leary and the Irish.
The Irish turned in a dominating performance starting with the first day of stroke play on Monday and delivered a signature victory for a program that hadn’t qualified for NCAA Regionals for eight years before last season, defeating the nation's third-ranked team which was coming off wins at The Blessings Intercollegiate and the SEC Match Play.
“It’s been four years in building this, to be honest,” said Notre Dame head coach John Handrigan. “I’m proud of the way these guys have improved over time and how the program has gotten better every year since we’ve been on this trip together.
“They’ve done a phenomenal job and have done everything we’ve asked them to and it paid off this week.”
LSU’s Carla Tejedo Mulet, Elsa Svensson, Latanna Stone, and Ingrid Lindblad won their matches to deliver a 4 and 1 victory over sixth-ranked South Carolina, with Stone accounting for the decisive point with a 2-up victory over Gamecock freshman Louise Rydqvist.
Rydqvist led for most of the match and was still clinging to a 1-up lead through 15 holes but missed a short par putt on the 16th which allowed Stone to pull even. The LSU junior from Riverview, Fla. then took her first lead of the match with a birdie on the par-5 17th and closed out Rydqvist with a conceded birdie on the final hole.
“I actually had no idea it would come down to my point,” said Stone following the match. “But the last three holes was a big stretch. Garrett (head coach Runion) stayed with me and was keeping me motivated. I was getting frustrated throughout the day, but I hung on. I’m just so happy for our team.”
“I think (having match play) is great,” said Runion. “The last time was in the SEC Championship when it went to match play, so we got a little bit of practice there. Unfortunately, in the NCAAs we missed match play by one shot. They (the players) weren’t too happy about that. They were motivated over the summer, and this was great practice for the SEC Championship and hopefully the national championship.”
In other matches on the men's side, No. 5 seed Alabama defeated No. 6 San Diego State, 3-2-0 while No. 3 Florida State turned back No. 4 Arizona, 3-1-1. No. 5 Virginia posted a 4-0-1 victory over No. 6 Baylor while defending NCAA Champion Ole Miss squeaked by No. 3 seed Arkansas, 2-1-2 to complete play on the women's side.
Jackson T. Stephens Cup Championship Results
LSU d. South Carolina, 4-1-0 (Women)
Carla Tejedo (LSU) d. Tai Anudit (SC), 3&2
Elsa Svensson (LSU) d. Justine Fournand (SC), 3&1
Latanna Stone (LSU) d. Louise Rydqvist (SC), 2-up
Mathilde Claisse (SC) d. Alden Wallace (LSU), 1-up
Ingrid Lindblad (LSU) d. Hannah Darling (SC), 1-up
Notre Dame d. Arkansas, 4-1-0 (Men)
Taichi Kho (ND) d. Segundo Pinto (Ark.), 1-up
Juan Camilo Vesga (Ark.) d. Patrick Kelly (ND), 2&1
Davis Chatfield (ND) d. Luke Long (Ark.), 6&4
Andrew O’Leary (ND) d. Mateo Fernandez de Olivieria (Ark.), 1-up
Palmer Jackson (ND) d. Will Gibson (Ark.), 2&1
Second Day Recap; Oct. 19
There was plenty of drama at the Alotian Club in Roland, Ark. on Tuesday as playoffs were needed to determine the men's and women's individual champions of the inaugural Jackson (Jack) T. Stephens Cup.
Mateo Fernández de Oliveira of Arkansas outlasted Notre Dame's Palmer Jackson in a three-hole playoff to claim his first collegiate title while LSU's Ingrid Lindblad came from behind and prevailed over teammate Carla Tejedo Mulet on the first playoff hole to win her fifth title as a collegian.
With an 8-under score of 856, Notre Dame earned the top-seed in Wednesday's championship match, where it will face host Arkansas, which shot 12-over 876 for 54-holes.
The women's title will be decided between top-seed LSU (+18) and second-seed South Carolina (+26), which edged out Arkansas by one stroke to edge its way into Wednesday's championship match.
Fernández de Oliveira and Jackson were tied at the end of regulation play at 6-under 210 after both players shot final rounds of 70. The two players twice exchanged pars on hole No. 10 before moving to the third playoff hole, the par-3 16th.
Both players faced difficult second shots from greenside bunkers. After Jackson blasted out to five feet past the pin, Fernández de Oliveira deftly negotiated a downhill shot from the back of the bunker by playing away from the hole and allowing the contours of Alotian's diabolical greens to take his ball to within 12 feet.
He then made the putt for a clutch par save and when Jackson's putt to extend the playoff missed its mark, the junior from Buenos Aires, Argentina had his first collegiate title.
"It feels very special," Fernández de Oliveira told the GOLF Channel. "It feels even more special to be the first winner of this event."
The women's individual title came down between LSU teammates Lindblad and Tejedo who finished regulation at 1-over par 217.
Lindblad pulled even with Tejedo Mulet with a birdie on 17 but the sophomore from Castellon de Plana, Spain, playing one group behind her teammate, regained the lead with a birdie of her own on the same hole.
When Tejedo Mulet failed to get up and down for par from behind the green on 18, the two internationals marched to the 10th hole for a playoff.
After both players' second shots found the green, Tejedo Mulet's birdie try failed to find its mark and then Lindland, the third-ranked female amateur in the world, converted her 20-foot birdie putt to collect her fifth collegiate victory.
“I just wanted to give (the putt) a chance because in match play you just assume the other player is going to make the putt," Lindblad told the GOLF Channel after the match. "So, this morning I had almost the same putt, but a little longer. I hit a good putt, but with a little too much speed. So, I just wanted to give it a good read and a good go.”
First Round Recap; Oct. 19
Day one of the inaugural Jackson (Jack) T. Stephens Cup is in the books and Notre Dame and LSU found themselves on top of the leaderboard when the sunset on the Alotian Club in Roland, Ark.
Notre Dame, ranked 17th by Golfweek/Sagarin, sits at 7-under 569 through 36 holes after carding rounds of 282 and 287, good for an 11-stroke lead over Arizona (580) on the men's side while the LSU women (+12) held a six-shot lead over top-ranked Arkansas when play was suspended.
Notre Dame senior Taichi Kho managed rounds of 68-70 on the demanding Alotian Club and holds the 36-hole lead at 6-under 138. Teammate Palmer Jackson carded a pair of 70s and is tied with Arkansas junior Mateo Fernández de Oliveira for second place at 4-under 140.
After shooting a 5-over 77 in the morning, Christian Banke of Arizona carved 12 strokes off his afternoon round, coming in with a bogey-free 65. At 2-under 142, Banke is four off the back heading into the final 18 holes on Tuesday.
Arkansas redshirt freshman Juan Camilo Vesga provided some fireworks in the morning when he aced the par-3, 161-yard 11th hole, his second of the day. Vesga would go on to shoot a first-round 75 but bounced back with an even-par round of 72 in the afternoon.
After posting a 73 for her morning round, Carla Tejedo of LSU was 3-under on her second tour of the Alotian Club when play was suspended early in the evening. At 2-under for the tournament with four holes remaining in the second round, Tejedo holds a four-stroke lead over Justine Fournand of South Carolina.
LSU teammate Ingrid Lindblad is in a group tied for third at 3-over along with Virginia Bossi of Virginia and Julie Johnson of defending NCAA champion Ole Miss.
The team and stroke-play portion of the Stephens Cup will wrap up on Tuesday before the teams engage in one day of match play on Wednesday.
GOLF Channel will have live second-round coverage from the Alotian Club beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.