Vanderbilt outlasts Arizona State in exciting East Lake Cup final
Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics
Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

It seems only fitting that the championship match of the East Lake Cup between the nation's top two teams in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings would come down to the last hole.

With the title match between Vanderbilt and Arizona State tied at 2-2, William Moll delivered the deciding point for the Commodores with a birdie on the par-5 18th hole for a 1-up win over Jose Ballester.

Both players hit errant tee shots, but they managed to escape trouble to set up birdie putts on the final hole. After Ballester's 15-footer missed his mark, Moll rolled in a four-footer to deliver the title to the Commodores.

The win capped off a comeback victory for Moll, who was four down through 10 holes against the Spaniard.

"It's a big confidence boost," said Moll. "I was pretty nervous over that putt but I was able to knock it in and it feels awesome for the team."

Matthew Riedel put the first point on the board for the Commodores, scoring a lopsided win over Arizona State’s Ryggs Johnston, 7 and 6.

In the most exciting match of the championship, Arizona State freshman Luke Potter rolled in a 15-foot, left-to-right breaking putt on the par-5 18th hole for a birdie and a 1-up win over Cole Sherwood. Potter enjoyed a 4-up lead through five holes but lost the lead when Sherwood tied the match with a birdie on the par-4 12th hole.

Potter bent, but he didn't break, as regained the lead on the 13th with a birdie and again on the difficult par-3 15th with a par. Sherwood evened the match again with a birdie on 16 and after the players halved the 17th with par, they went to 18 all squared, with Potter eventually prevailing with a birdie on the last.

Vanderbilt went back in front after Reid Davenport rallied from a two-hole deficit to beat Michael Mjaaseth, 2 and 1.

After ASU's Preston Summerhays defeated reigning NCAA individual champion and East Lake Cup medalist Gordon Sargent, 3 and 1, in the final pairing to even the match, all eyes turned to Moll, who was lining up his short birdie putt on 18.

The ball found the back of the hole, giving the Dores their second East Lake Cup title and first since 2017.

“For me, the word that comes to mind is grit,” Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh said. “I’m super proud of how the boys battled all day long, seeing the hole a couple of them were in early and how they were able to find a way to get the job done was an awesome way to end the fall season.”

The win is Vanderbilt's third team title of the fall after victories at The Frederica Cup and SEC Preview. But after being upset in the finals of the SEC Match Play by Tennessee, the winter break will be that much nicer for the nation's top-ranked team after their performance in Atlanta.

"We’re certainly excited to finish the fall this way, but also to see if we can improve," said Limbaugh. "We’re going to get some rest and then work on some areas we need to get better in to be the best team we can be.”

Vanderbilt Athletic Communications contributed to this report.

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ABOUT THE East Lake Cup

Started in 2015 and hosted by the historic East Lake Golf Club Atlanta, this collegiate, three-day match play competition features the top-performing teams from the previous year's NCAA Men’s Golf Championships. There is an individual award for the low 18-hole scorer in the seeding round.

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