Langley wins NCAA title after wait

Scott Langley had to wait to find out if he won the NCAA individual title.

Scott Langley had to wait to find out if he won the NCAA individual title.

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OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – For Scott Langley it was one of those times when the wait was well worth it.

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Scott Langley won the NCAA individual title June 4.

The Illinois junior completed stroke play at the NCAA Championship at The Honors Course around 3:45 p.m. Thursday. After a second straight 4-under-par 68, he sat atop the individual leaderboard at 10-under 206.

Then he had to wait it out as the 15-team afternoon wave and six individuals gave chase. And it wasn’t until close to 9 p.m. that the last putt of the third round fell and it became official.

Sophomores Alex Ching of San Diego and Peter Uihlein of Oklahoma State proved to be the major threats, but came up just short, both finishing at 8-under 208.

Ching, who shot a competitive course record 6-under 66 the previous day and held a two-shot lead over Uihlein at 9 under after two rounds, bogeyed the final hole to close with a 1-over 73.

Uihlein had a three-birdie, two-bogey performance for a 1-under 71, but could muster no more than pars from No. 12 in.

Oregon State senior Diego Velasquez had the best round of the day, equaling the competitive course record of 6-under-par 66 and finishing fourth at 7-under 209, one stroke better than Augusta State junior Henrik Norlander, who closed with a 73.

Langley put himself in contention in Round 2. He birdied his first three holes, added another at No. 14 and then eagled the 18th to get to 8 under for the tournament. But he bogeyed the par-5 17th as the horn blew to stop play due to darkness, then came back in the morning with a bogey at 18.

Starting his final round on the back nine and three shots out of the lead, Langley, whose best finish this season has been a trio of seconds, birdied No. 14, eagled 17 and birdied Nos. 1 and 2 to push his total to 11 under. Bogeys at Nos. 5 and 7 sent him back, but a birdie at the eighth put him in sole possession of the lead.

“My ball-striking has been great all week,” Langley said. “I didn’t miss many shots and gave myself a lot of opportunities to make birdies. My putting has been a little streaky, but I kept the ball in good positions and before you knew it I was a few under every round.”

Langley had his worst finish of the season when he tied for 24th at the Big Ten Conference Championship, but said that “motivated me get myself back together and help the team.”

After tying for seventh at the NCAA West Regional to help lead Illinois into the finals, Langley still said he had “no big expectations” coming into this week.

“I just wanted to play as well as I could for the team,” Langley said. “We didn’t do all that well, but now I’ll just have to wait and see what happens with me.”

Ching said he was keeping up with what was going on, primarily for team purposes, and “knew I had to make a couple of birdies” coming in.

He did just that at holes 14, 15, and 17. But his bogey at 16 left him needing a birdie at 18 to catch Langley. He pushed his tee shot into the rough, missed the green to the left, came up 25 feet short with his chip and two-putted.

“Overall, it was a great week for me,” Ching said. “I feel I did well myself and the team is still in there. I would have liked to make a few more birdies or not make some bogeys, but it’s golf. Sometimes it just goes that way.”

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