Alabama picks up lopsided win over New Mexico
PHOTOS: NCAA Championship (Quarterfinals)
View images from the quarterfinals of NCAA Championship Match Play on Friday.
MILTON, Ga. -- The 18th hole must've been lonely at the conclusion of Friday's match-play action at the NCAA Championship.
Alabama decided the par-4 was unnecessary.
The second-ranked Crimson Tide rolled into the semifinals at the Capital City Club's Crabapple course, eliminating fifth-ranked New Mexico, 4-1, in the day's most lopsided result -- with no match going past the par-4 17th.
"I thought we looked a little freer, we looked more comfortable," said Tide head coach Jay Seawell, whose team will face Georgia Tech in the semifinals on Saturday morning. "We talked about it last night. I thought we hadn't played our best golf. We looked like we were a bit tight.
"Got up early enough to keep the pressure on against a very good team."
Junior Bobby Wyatt provided the clinching point after closing out Victor Perez on the 17th with a two-putt par, securing a 2-and-1 victory. Wyatt pointed to the early lead as a big reason why the Tide cruised into the semis.
"Looked like we got up early. The first time I got a look at a board was on the seventh, and I saw we were up in four matches, so that's always nice," said Wyatt, ranked No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings. "It's definitely better than the other way around. But it's match play, any of those matches can flip at anytime. So you just keep your head down and take care of business."
And take care of business they did, with senior Scott Strohmeyer taking care of Benjamin Bauch 4 and 3, sophomore star Justin Thomas pulled away for a 4-and-3 win over James Erkenbeck and Cory Whitsett was a 5-and-4 victor over John Catlin after going 7 under through 14 holes.
Strohmeyer, being the only senior in the starting five, knows each match could signal the end of his collegiate career -- one that includes a 3-1 record in match play at the NCAAs.
"It's always fun to play for a National Championship, help get the first one for your team. It's kind of sad, in a way, because this is the last chance for us to play together as a team, so I am trying to cherish every moment," said Strohmeyer, the team's captain.
Seawell has been reluctant to think about Strohmeyer's inevitable exit.
"Thought about that this morning. Starting yesterday, there is a finality possibility every day," said Seawell. "(The team) didn't really talk about it. I don't want to bring it up, because I don't want to start crying or sentimental because Scott is such a good captain. I think in the back of their heart, they want to continue to let him play some more golf."
PHOTOS: Cal advances to semifinals
View images of Cal during Friday's match play against Arizona State.
More golf is on the docket at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday as the Tide tries to move one step closer to a repeat berth in the finale. Playing Georgia Tech at the Crabapple course might be a disadvantage, but Seawell wasn't willing to go that far.
"They could beat us on any golf course. We know that, so we need to be our best," said Seawell.
Strohmeyer went one step further.
"They're a faceless opponent. We have to treat it like that."
While Alabama has maintained that they aren't using last year's heartbreaking runner-up finish as motivation, Wyatt did reveal one thing they learned.
"Winning the first round doesn't mean anything, starting right now."
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Saturday's match-ups: Alabama vs. Georgia Tech
10:45 a.m.: Anders Albertson, Ga. Tech, vs. Bobby Wyatt, Alabama
10:54 a.m.: Shun Yat Hak, Ga. Tech, vs. Trey Mullinax, Alabama
11:03 a.m.: Bo Andrews, Ga. Tech, vs. Scott Strohmeyer, Alabama
11:12 a.m.: Seth Reeves, Ga. Tech, vs. Justin Thomas, Alabama
11:21 a.m.: Ollie Schniederjans, Ga. Tech, vs. Cory Whitsett, Alabama