College / Men

Kohler Regional: Baylor sneaks into NCAA Championship, UCLA’s streak ends

Mike Small Illinois
Illinois captured an 11-shot victory at the NCAA Kohler Regional to advance to the NCAA Championship. (Tracy Wilcox)

LEADERBOARD

TEAM WINNER: Illinois (11-under 853)

INDIVIDUAL WINNER: Tee-k Kelly, Ohio State (7-under 209)

ALSO MOVING ON: Florida (857), Arkansas (857), Florida State (858) and Baylor (858)

INDIVIDUAL ADVANCING: Tee-k Kelly, Ohio State

BACK 9 BEARS: For much of the day it appeared Baylor was headed for a sixth place finish for the second consecutive year in regional play. That did not happen.

The Bears lineup posted 17 birdies to leap into the top five midway through the back nine to advance to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2010. And the first time under head coach Mike McGraw, who is in his second year coaching at Baylor.

“We got on a roll,” McGraw said. “I haven’t seen anything like that from a team of mine in many years.”

Four Baylor players would post scores under-par in the final round led by 4-under efforts from Braden Bailey and Matthew Perrine. Both players would finish in the top 10 individually.

“We always teach the guys to be prepared for something good to happen. Today that happened,” McGraw said. “We feel very blessed to be headed to Eugene.”

Considering the experience McGraw has as a head coach at Oklahoma State and an assistant at Alabama, the Bears will be a team that is watched closely in Eugene.

• • •

STREAK ENDS: UCLA owned the nation’s longest streak of appearances in the NCAA finals. The Bruins had played in the last 13 championships dating back to 2002. This year was not a normal year for UCLA golf.

The Bruins were the No. 9 seed in Kohler and entered the postseason ranked No. 54 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. UCLA finished 10th and missed the fifth and final qualifying spot by 18 shots.

“What upsets us the most is not having a chance to win a championship,” Freeman said. “Our young team will have enough talent to begin the next streak. The guys never gave up and did their best on every shot.”

• • •

SHORT SHOTS: The team victory for Illinois marks the fourth consecutive victory for the Illini in NCAA Regional play. … The top five seeds all advance to the national championship from this site … playing as an individual Ohio State senior Tee-k Kelly won medalist honors to advance to the final.

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