• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. –- Cal head coach Steve Desimone wanted Joel Stalter in the fifth and final match in Cal’s quarterfinal matchup with San Diego State, figuring the Frenchman’s familiarity with match play would pay off. It was a wise move, because Stalter was Friday’s hero for the Golden Bears.
The sophomore holed a 15-foot birdie putt on Riviera Country Club’s 17th hole to close out San Diego State’s Alex Kang, 2 and 1. That win gave Cal a 3-2 victory over San Diego State and put the Bears in a semifinal match-up with top-seeded Alabama.
Stalter lifted his belly putter in the air as his ball approached the hole. He was mobbed by his teammates after it fell. Cal and San Diego State had split the first four matches, which were all complete when Stalter and Kang came to the 17th. All the focus was on them.
“I’m glad (Desimone) put me in that spot because it showed that he was confident in me,” Stalter said. “I knew it would be a lot of pressure, but I knew I could handle it ...
• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - One of the most intriguing matchups of the day involved two Pac-12 Conference teams going head-to-head. The second-seeded UCLA Bruins faced the No. 7-seeded Oregon Ducks, two teams that have played in the same event five times this year, with the Bruins holding a 3-2 edge.
Today, the 3-2 edge belonged to Oregon.
UCLA was considered to be a favorite this week, considering its familiarity with Riviera Country Club. The Bruins also had played well in stroke-play qualifying, having the lead a few times during the final round and eventually placing second to Alabama by two strokes.
“We have played these guys a lot, and our guys have a lot of respect for them,” Oregon coach Casey Martin said. “My guys look up to them. We knew we had to be really good today.”
The loss was tough for UCLA coach Derek Freeman, who for the second year in a row saw his Bruins fall in the opening round of match play. Last year, UCLA was the top seed at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla., and fell in the opening round to Duke.
“I am ...
• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Justin Thomas and Cory Whitsett each won handily, while fifth-man Scott Strohmeyer jumped out to a big lead and held on down the stretch to help Alabama advance to the NCAA semifinals. The Crimson Tide, who defeated Kent State, 3-1-1, will face California, a 3-and-2 winner against San Diego State.
Kent State had clinched the No. 8 spot by defeating Florida State in a playoff Friday morning.
Alabama, No. 2 in Golfweek’s rankings, advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the first time since the match-play portion was added in 2009.
- Ryan Lavner
• • •
Cal knocks off San Diego State
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Cal’s Joel Stalter holed a 15-foot birdie putt on Riviera’s 17th green to lead the Golden Bears to the NCAA Championship semifinals. The Bears beat San Diego State, 3-2.
Stalter played San Diego State’s Alex Kang in the fifth and final match between the two teams. The focus was on the anchor match after San Diego State’s Colin Featherstone beat Cal’s Brandon Hagy ...
• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Alabama junior Scott Strohmeyer essentially played more than half the season for practice. Competing for the second-ranked team in the country, this No. 5 man’s score counted in only seven of 18 rounds played. His scoring average was nearly four strokes (3.86) higher than his ballyhooed teammate, Justin Thomas. And he shot par or better only five times in competition.
“It’s hard,” Strohmeyer said, “because sometimes I’ll play well and think, Gosh, my score didn’t even count.”
So, naturally, the Crimson Tide’s hopes of advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Championship came down to Strohmeyer. For a national title-caliber team, there are no weak links.
In top-seeded Alabama’s first-round match Friday against Kent State, Thomas had won handily, 6 and 5 against Kevin Miller. So had sophomore Cory Whitsett, after a 5-and-4 victory over Kyle Kmiecik.
Strohmeyer, though, had surprised many by jumping out to a 5-up lead over Taylor Pendrith at the turn. Then Strohmeyer lost No. 10. Then he double bogeyed 11. Then he bogeyed 15, too. Now, he was only 2 up.
“That last ...
• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- The field is set after Kent State knocked off Florida State in a playoff on Friday morning, securing the eighth and final spot in the match-play portion of the NCAA Men's Championship at Riviera Country Club.
The prize? A match-up with top-seeded Alabama. Check out all of the match-ups here, including individual matches and tee times.
After struggling for two rounds, many of the country's top-ranked teams made a Thursday surge and moved into match play.
With four of our college experts on the ground in Southern California, each will keep you up-to-date on each match with blogs, commentary and things to look out for throughout the day.
And off we go!
• • •
UCLA vs. Oregon: 7:30 p.m. EDT
Oregon beats UCLA by one match. Oregon's Andrew Vijarro, Daniel Miernicki and Eugene Wong won their respective matches, while on the UCLA side Patrick Cantlay and Pontus Widegren were victorious in their matches.
• • •
California vs. San Diego State: 6:45 p.m. EDT
FROM SEAN MARTIN: The ...
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- The match-ups were announced late last night and Kent State joined the top eight this morning, but who really has a shot at coming through the match-play bracket at the NCAA Championships this weekend at Riviera Country Club.
Our four experts - who have been providing extensive coverage of the NCAAs all week long - take a stab at breaking down the brackets and making their predictions. Maybe it is the Hollywood air, but a pair of them are predicting some home cookin':
• • •
Ron Balicki's predictions
QUARTERFINALS: Alabama over Kent State; California over San Diego State; UCLA over Oregon; Texas over Washington.
SEMIFINALS: Alabama over California; Texas over UCLA
FINALS: Alabama over Texas
• • •
Lance Ringler's predictions
QUARTERFINALS: Alabama over Kent State; San Diego State over California; UCLA over Oregon; Washington over Texas.
SEMIFINALS: San Diego State over Alabama; Washington over UCLA
CHAMPIONSHIP: Washington over San Diego State
• • •
Sean Martin's predictions
QUARTERFINALS: Alabama over Kent State; San Diego State over California; UCLA over Oregon; Washington over Texas
SEMIFINALS: Alabama over San Diego State; UCLA over Washington
CHAMPIONSHIP: UCLA over Alabama
• • •
Ryan Lavner's predictions
QUARTERFINALS: Alabama over Kent State; Cal over San Diego State; UCLA over Oregon ...
A look at the match-ups for today's first round of match play at the 2012 NCAA Men's Championship at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
With an 11 a.m. EDT playoff between Florida State and Kent State, both teams set their lineups in case they moved on. Alabama will play the winner regardless.
(Click on any name to see previous results)
- All tee times are local PDT times
• • •
Alabama (1) vs. Kent State (8)
Justin Thomas vs. Kevin Miller, 10 a.m.
Cory Whitsett vs. Kyle Kmiecik, 10:09 a.m.
Scott Strohmeyer vs. Taylor Pendrith, 10:18 a.m.
Bobby Wyatt vs. Corey Conners, 10:27 a.m.
Hunter Hamrick vs. Mackenzie Hughes, 10:36 a.m.
• • •
California (4) vs. San Diego State (5)
Max Homa vs. J.J. Spaun, 10:45 a.m.
Brandon Hagy vs. Colin Featherstone, 10:54 a.m.
Pace Johnson vs. Matt Hoffenberg, 11:03 a.m.
Michael Kim vs. Tom Berry, 11:12 a.m.
Joel Stalter vs. Alex Kang, 11:21 a.m.
• • •
UCLA (2) vs. Oregon (7)
Pontus Widegren vs. Robbie Ziegler, 11:30 a.m.
Alex Kim vs. Andrew Vijarro, 11:39 a.m.
Pedro Figueiredo ...
Alabama freshman Justin Thomas has been named the Phil Mickelson Award winner for the 2011-12 season. The honor is presented by the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation, and presented to the most outstanding freshman in Division I men’s golf.
Thomas won the first tournament of his college career, the Carpet Capital Collegiate, and went on to win three more times: Puerto Rico Classic, Southeastern Conference Championship and NCAA Southeast Regional. He was T-7 after stroke play at the NCAA Championship. Thomas also collected SEC Player and Freshman of the Year honors.
TCU’s Julien Brun, Washington's Cheng-Tsung Pan, Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers and Texas’ Jordan Spieth joined Thomas on the All-Freshmen Team.
The Golf Coaches Association of America also has released its list of Ping First-Team All-Americans:
- Blayne Barber, Auburn
- Julien Brun, TCU
- Dylan Frittelli, Texas
- Stephan Jaeger, Chattanooga
- Daniel Miernicki, Oregon
- Thomas Pieters, Illinois
- Patrick Rodgers, Stanford
- Jordan Spieth, Texas
- Justin Thomas, Alabama
- Chris Williams, Washington
- Eugene Wong, Oregon
• • •
The final day of stroke-play qualifying at the NCAA Championship was almost too much to comprehend. It was a back-and-forth, who-is-on-first type of day. In passing, many coaches had their heads down and were grinding away, others just smiled because they loved the atmosphere this day presented. Players were talking to their golf balls and reacting to their shots in a much more animated way.
After it was all said and done, what I know and don’t know as we head into match play (after the 8 a.m. PDT playoff between Kent State and Florida State to determine the eighth and final team) . . .
• I know that in the last four years, three of the NCAA individual champions have finished their rounds on the ninth hole. Good, bad or does it really matter? I say it does not matter. The college golf game has been molded into a team sport. There is little importance on the individual win. I am fairly certain Thomas Pieters would trade his victory for a tee time and an opponent Friday.
• I know the day ended with a complete mood killer. With play ending at 7 ...
• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- After two rounds of the NCAA Men's Championship, Alabama entered day three with a four-shot lead at Riviera Country Club and came out with a two-shot lead, at 7-over 859, to garner the No. 1 seed for the match play portion. Illinois' Thomas Pieters takes the individual title at 5-under 208.
Today's final round of stroke play will prove to be one of the most exciting days of the college golf season. With so many teams in contention for a match play spot, every stroke will present a crucial, make-it-or-break-it situation.
With four of our college experts on the ground in Southern California, each will keep you up-to-date with blogs, commentary and things to look out for throughout the day.
And off we go!
• • •
Update #31: 11:05 p.m. EDT
Seven of the eight teams are set for match play. Those advancing: Alabama, UCLA, Texas, California, San Diego State, Washington and Oregon. After the Pac-12 struggled over the first two days, four of the eight teams will come from ...
• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - There’s something about competing on a course that the pros play on the PGA Tour that obviously appeals to Illinois’ Thomas Pieters.
Last fall, the sophomore from Belgium won his first collegiate title at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational at Muirfield Village Golf Club, home of Nicklaus’ own Memorial Tournament.
On Thursday, he did it again. This time at the home of the annual Los Angeles-area PGA Tour stop at Riviera Country Club, also site of two PGA Championships, a U.S. Open and a U.S. Senior Open.
And this time around, it was a victory that carried a lot more clout and prestige.
With a final-round, even-par 71 for a 5-under 208 total, Pieters captured the NCAA Championship at this famed venue.
“Winning on these kind of courses (PGA Tour level) proves to me I can play at this level,” Pieters said. “It’s nice to know I can do it.
“Being from Belgium, I know this (NCAA) means a lot more to the people and players in America, but it is a great win for me. It’s nice to close out the season with a ...
• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – The reality is that careers end here at the NCAA Championship, amid all of the scoring fluctuations and the heart palpitations and the web-browser refreshing. It’s so sudden. Players shake hands with their fellow playing competitors, climb the steep steps behind the 18th green at Riviera Country Club, sign their scorecards in the locker room . . . and then what? They turn pro. They seek employment. They move on.
“I’m not sure if I should cry, laugh or sleep, but it’s a weird feeling,” East Carolina senior Harold Varner (@HV3_Golf) wrote on Twitter Thursday afternoon. “College golf is done forever #crazy.”
How do you prepare for the end?
Players such as Virginia senior Ben Kohles, a two-time ACC Player of the Year, breezed through the final 18 holes in a nostalgic fog, even though he won’t turn professional until after the U.S. Amateur in August. It’s still the last time he’ll play with Stanford and TCU. It’s still the last time he’ll play for a coach. It’s still the last time he’ll depend on teammates. “It’s sad for it ...
• • •
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – San Diego State head coach Ryan Donovan received a text message Thursday morning from the man whose feat he’s trying to repeat. The sender, Josh Gregory, knows how to lead a smaller school to victory in the NCAA Championship. He was at the helm for Augusta State’s consecutive national championships in 2011 and 2012. Donovan’s Aztecs are trying this year to be the team that beats the bigger schools.
They made the match-play bracket at Riviera Country Club by shooting the week’s low round, an even-par 284, in Thursday’s final round of stroke play. The Aztecs, who started Thursday in 15th place, finished T-4 at 19-over 871. The top eight teams will compete in match play to decided the NCAA Championship.
Like those Augusta State teams, San Diego State has plenty of skill, even if it comes from a smaller conference. The Aztecs, winners of the past two Mountain West Conference titles, are No. 14 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. They won five times this year, including four in a row earlier this spring. They arrived at Riviera having won their conference and ...
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Texas A&M was the first team to take advantage of the NCAA Championship’s match-play format, winning the 2009 title. The Aggies have been on the wrong side of the cut in the past two national championships, missing match play by the smallest of margins. It will be close again this year after a Thursday morning charge.
The Aggies matched the week’s low round with a 1-over 285 Thursday morning at Riviera Country Club. They finished at 27-over 879, the best score among the 15 teams that competed in the morning wave (the top 15 teams after Wednesday’s second round teed off Thursday afternoon). Texas A&M’s round gave it an outside chance of making match play.
“I’m so proud of them,” said Texas A&M head coach J.T. Higgins. “That’s what we challenged them to do, to fight for every shot and play with a lot of pride.”
The top eight teams after Thursday advance to match play, which begins Friday. The cut line to make the match-play bracket was 16 over at the beginning of the day. The Aggies’ chances of making the eight-team bracket were hurt by ...
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