Texas Tech awaits match-play fate
Editor’s note: Texas Tech finished seventh in the stroke-play portion of the NCAA Championship to advance to Friday’s first round of match play.
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OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – Texas Tech head coach Greg Sands may wear a hole in his computer’s mouse this afternoon. He and his team will be constantly clicking ‘Refresh’ as they monitor the NCAA Championship’s live scoring.
Texas Tech rallied Thursday, shooting 8-under 280 to give itself a chance to make the NCAA Championship’s eight-team match-play bracket. The Red Raiders’ final round was the second-lowest of the tournament. When they finished their round at about 3 p.m. Thursday, they were in 11th at 3-over par, two shots outside the cut line.
The Red Raiders, No. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, were in 27th place after a first-round 302, but played the next 36 holes in 11-under par.
“It’s going to be close, within a shot I think,” said Big 12 champion Chris Ward, who shot 67. “We just have to really have things go our way.”
If Texas Tech does make match play, Tyler Weworski will be the team’s hero. Weworski, the Red Raiders’ final player on the course Thursday, made a 12-foot par putt on the final hole to shoot 70.
“It was cool, a good feeling,” Weworski said. “When you make a putt for individual tournaments, it feels good, but nothing like when you make one for your team.”
The Red Raiders will have to wait awhile to find out if they’ll advance to the Elite Eight.
The third round will likely not finish Thursday, so the match-play bracket won’t be set until Friday morning. Inclement weather delayed play Wednesday, and forced the second round to be completed Thursday morning. That delayed the third round, pushing the final tee time back to 4:13 p.m.
Texas Tech’s chances of moving up the leaderboard as they sit in the clubhouse are limited. Low scores are possible at an Honors Course that is playing soft because of rain throughout the week. However, there are enough hazards that could lead to high numbers with a few wayward swings.
Ward, the only senior in Texas Tech’s starting five, and Matt Smith each shot final-round 67s, one shot off The Honors Course’s competitive course record.
“Either way, I just wanted to have something memorable for my last stroke-play round of college golf,” Ward said. “I just didn’t want it to end on a bad note.”
High fourth scores sunk Texas Tech this week. It had to count a 78 in the first round, and a 76 in the final round. Nils Floren, No. 11 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, made birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 in the final round, but double bogeyed the final hole to shoot 76.