Eugene Regional: Rodgers leads Stanford to win
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Team winner: Stanford (13-over 276-282-295-853)
Individual winner: Patrick Rodgers, Stanford (6 under, 66-67-72-204)
Also moving on: 2. Oregon (854) 3. Oklahoma (860) 4. Houston (875) 5. South Carolina (880)
Individual advancing: Chris Robb, Chattanooga (2-over 67-72-73-212)
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Cardinal struggle, but hold on
The top 5 advance, but the Stanford Cardinal didn’t come just to advance. They wanted to win the regional after missing out on the finals last year.
With a nine-shot advantage over Oklahoma and 11 shots over host Oregon going into the final day, the dye seemed to be cast for Stanford, but no one told the Sooners or Ducks it was a done deal.
PHOTOS: 2014 NCAA men's regional at Eugene, Ore.
Get a glimpse at the action at college golf's 2014 NCAA men's regional at Eugene, Ore.
Early in the final round, Stanford struggled and Oklahoma made a move and caught the Cardinal on the back nine at Eugene Country Club. What had been a comfortable lead at the beginning of the day became a seesaw affair, but eventually the Sooners backed down over the closing holes.
Enter the Ducks.
Oregon made its move behind freshman Thomas Lim, who shot a 4-under 66 as the Ducks pushed their Pac-12 rival Cardinal to the brink.
“We’ve been knocked down a few times, and to rally and play like we did is great,” Oregon head coach Casey Martin said after his team's second-place finish.
“The golf course, obviously we had a huge advantage, being that we play it, but that’s not why we got through. We got through because we battled and handled adversity really well.”
The Ducks simply ran out of holes, as a three-putt by Stanford's Patrick Rodgers, the runaway medalist, on the 18th hole merely trimmed the Cardinal's margin of victory to one stroke.
“It's tough. It doesn’t matter how big a lead you have,” Stanford head coach Conrad Ray said. “It's hard to play with a lead like that. Expectations are dangerous in this game, and it's easy to get in a spot where you maybe don’t focus as much on a shot.”
For Oklahoma, it will be the Sooners' fourth consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championship, but now they go to a familiar course in Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
“We started out great,” Oklahoma coach Ryan Hybl said. “The boys hung in there. We didn’t finish very well, but at the end of the day it’s all about survival, and we’ll be going to Kansas next week.”
For Stanford's Ray, he intends to tell his team that they will need to play better if they want to win the finals, but for now the Cardinal eclipsed a big hurdle.
“Regionals,” Ray said. “If you ask any coach in the room, it’s probably the toughest week of the year.”
That week was made easier by Rodgers, a junior who will play in his final collegiate tournament at NCAAs after having announced that he will turn pro at the conclusion of the season. Rodgers won his 11th career title behind a final-round 72, tying Tiger Woods' school record for victories.
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Finding Eugene to his liking
Oregon’s Thomas Lim had strep throat and asked Martin if he could just compete in the team portion because he was not feeling well.
Martin told him to just keep battling. Martin would joke with Lim later on the 17th tee, as the freshman was 4 under for the day and pushing his team closer to a regional victory, whether he still wanted to play only for the team.
“Amazing,” Martin said of Lim’s round Saturday. “Thomas has the ability to step up his game on a bigger stage.”
Martin said that being ill may have dampened Lim's expectations a bit this week, which was a good thing.
Lim’s round started well, with two birdies through six holes, but a double bogey on the par-3 seventh dropped the Southern California product back to even par.
A birdie on the eighth hole moved Lim to 1 under, but it was the back side that made the difference.
“I don’t know what happened on the back nine,” Lim said of his three-birdie performance. “Started hitting my driver really well. I don’t know; just kind of blanked out. Made a lot of putts. Every time I looked up, putts were just going where I saw them. “
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Robb wins playoff
Chris Robb of Chattanooga defeated Niklas Lindstrom of Liberty in a one-hole playoff to advance to the NCAA finals as an individual.
Robb, a senior from Scotland, made a difficult up-and-down from 30 yards after his drive found the fairway bunker, but he converted a downhill 10-footer to make par to advance.
Lindstrom had less than 100 yards left, but he hit a line-drive second shot that went over the green, from where chipped to 7 feet but did not hole the putt to continue the playoff.