NCAA Championships

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Ron Balicki
Illinois' Thomas Pieters hits his tee shot at No. 15 during the Round 1 of the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.
Illinois' Thomas Pieters hits his tee shot at No. 15 during the Round 1 of the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.

MILTON, Ga. -- Illinois coach Mike Small and two of his players -- Alex Burge and Thomas Pieters -- had some thinking and possible planning to do on the eve of this year’s NCAA Championship finals title match at Capital City Golf Club’s Crabapple course.

All three advanced through local qualifying for this year’s U.S. Open and are scheduled to compete in Sectional qualifying on Monday, the day after the Fighting Illini take on Alabama to decide the national collegiate champion.

Small, an accomplished player in his own right who has played in three previous U.S. Opens, and ...

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Nick Masuda
Alabama's Cory Whitsett shakes hands with Georgia Tech's Ollie Schniederjans after Whitsett won 3 and 2 during the semifinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship.
Alabama's Cory Whitsett shakes hands with Georgia Tech's Ollie Schniederjans after Whitsett won 3 and 2 during the semifinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship.

— It took nearly 43 months, but Cory Whitsett got his revenge.

More than three years removed from a loss in the match-play final of the Polo Junior Golf Classic to Ollie Schniederjans, the two were paired in the day's final match at the NCAA Championship on Saturday.

And this one went decidedly in Whitsett's favor, taking a 1-up lead on the first hole and never looking back in a 3-and-2 victory that helped propel his Alabama squad to a 3-0-2 victory over Georgia Tech, earning a berth in Sunday's final against Illinois.

"I knew Ollie ...

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Cassie Stein
Thomas Pieters of Illinois is congratulated by his teammates after they defeated Cal to advance to the finals during the semifinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship.
Thomas Pieters of Illinois is congratulated by his teammates after they defeated Cal to advance to the finals during the semifinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship.

MILTON, Ga. -– It was the heavyweight match-up of the day – the 2012 NCAA medalist, Illinois’ Thomas Pieters, and the 2013 medalist, California’s Max Homa, in the semifinals of the NCAA Championship.

And, as it should be, the match went 20 holes and ultimately decided who would advance to the finals at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple course on Sunday.

Pieters hit his wedge shot, from a side-hill lie, to 10 feet on the 20th hole -- the par-4 second -- and two-putted for par, while Homa, who had so much adrenaline hitting his approach shot from 75 yards, hit to ...

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Golfweek Staff
The 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.
The 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.

MILTON, Ga. -- And then there were four -- or, the Final Fore, as they call it here at the NCAA Championship.

The favorite? Still alive, as Cal knocked off Arizona State on Friday.

The biggest challenger? Still alive, as Alabama blasted New Mexico on Friday.

The hometown favorite? Still alive, as Georgia Tech outlasted UNLV.

The surprise? That'd be Illinois, who knocked off defending champ Texas.

So, all of the storylines are there today, as Cal takes on Illinois in the first set of matches, followed by Alabama and Georgia Tech.

We'll keep you updated all day long from ...

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Lance Ringler
California's Max Homa, Michael Kim and Michael Weaver cheer on Brandon Hagy as he hits his second shot to four feet at No. 18 during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.
California's Max Homa, Michael Kim and Michael Weaver cheer on Brandon Hagy as he hits his second shot to four feet at No. 18 during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.

MILTON, Ga. – The Final Fore is set with a cast of characters that most would agree fits the final two days of the NCAA Championship very well.

Left chasing a national title are college golf’s two heavyweights: top-ranked California and No. 2 Alabama are on opposite sides of the bracket, eyeing a Sunday final. That’s what most want to see: No. 1 vs. No. 2 to decide it all.

Before that can happen, Cal will have to get past Illinois, which is playing the underdog role. Alabama will have to get past Georgia Tech, which happens to be ...

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Brentley Romine
Georgia Tech's Ollie Schniederjans won his match in 19 holes over UNLV's Kevin Penner during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.
Georgia Tech's Ollie Schniederjans won his match in 19 holes over UNLV's Kevin Penner during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.

MILTON, Ga. –– He can’t explain it, but Georgia Tech sophomore Ollie Schniederjans thrives in pressure situations.

Schniederjans led his NCAA Championship quarterfinal match Friday against UNLV’s Kevin Penner for 16 holes until Penner squared things up with a long birdie on the par-4 17th hole at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple course. And when the match went to extra holes, Schniederjans delivered, sticking his approach at the par-4 first hole to within 3 feet.

When the match-clinching birdie putt dropped, Schniederjans gave a big fist pump. The gallery of mostly Georgia Tech fans erupted. Schniederjans’ teammates came ...

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Ron Balicki
Illinois' Alex Burge talks with Cody Gribble of Texas on the first tee during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course. Burge defeated Gribble, 3 and 2.
Illinois' Alex Burge talks with Cody Gribble of Texas on the first tee during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course. Burge defeated Gribble, 3 and 2.

— Coming into this year’s NCAA Championship at Capital City Club’s Crabapple course, Illinois’ Alex Burge felt he had something to prove – to his coach, to his teammates, and, most of all, to himself.

It was a matter of showing he belonged and was worthy of a spot in the lineup at the national championship.

After all, the Fighting Illini sophomore’s best finish in a team event this season was a T-13 in the Louisiana Classics, the team’s spring opener. A T-19 at the Boilermaker and T-17 at the Big 10 Championship was just good ...

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Nick Masuda
Alabama's Justin Thomas defeated New Mexico's James Erkenbeck, 4 and 3, during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple course.
Alabama's Justin Thomas defeated New Mexico's James Erkenbeck, 4 and 3, during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple course.

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 ...

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Golfweek Staff
The 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.
The 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.

— And there there were four.

The NCAA Championship's match-play quarterfinals kicked off this morning at the Capital City Club's Crabapple course, with some intriguing match-ups all over the course.

Pac-12 rivals Cal and Arizona State facing off, with the No. 1-ranked Bears emerging victorious and advancing to the semifinals.

Illinois took on defending champion Texas and pulled out a win to move on; the Illini and Bears will meet tomorrow.

Host Georgia Tech needed a playoff to rise above a challenge from UNLV and continue play in the suburbs of the Yellow Jackets' home city.

And ...

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Cassie Stein
Cal's Brandon Hagy defeated Arizona State's Jon Rahm at No. 18 during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.
Cal's Brandon Hagy defeated Arizona State's Jon Rahm at No. 18 during the quarterfinals of match play at the 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.

MILTON, Ga. – A clutch shot by California junior Brandon Hagy sealed Cal’s spot in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships by defeating Arizona State 3-2 at The Capital City Club's Crabapple course.

Hagy stuck his shot to 4 feet with a 138-yard gap wedge.

“It was a great number for me,” Hagy added.

ASU’s Jon Rahm fired back with a shot to 12 feet above the cup. Rahm missed his putt and conceded the match.

The Sun Devils were up early in four of the five matches.

“You could sense in their players, they had a shot ...

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Cassie Stein
California's Joel Stalter
California's Joel Stalter

MILTON, Ga. -- Besides his French accent and European looks, Joël Stalter is just another one of the guys and part of the starting five on the No. 1 California men's golf team.

It was always a dream for Stalter to play college golf in America, but let alone at the school where he knew he always wanted to attend.

Stalter found his way to Cal when he was a freshman in high school. His high school had an exchange program that let students travel to America and see how life was for two weeks. The exchange program went to ...

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May 30, 2013 | 10:16 p.m.

NCAA Elite 8: Match-by-match breakdown

Nick Masuda

— The stage is set. The stroke play is over. Now it is mano-y-mano.

In match play, anything can – and will – happen.

Top-ranked California ran away with the stroke-play title by six shots and will take on Arizona State, while host Georgia Tech grabbed the No. 2 seed and will face UNLV. 2012 runner-up Alabama rallied late for the third seed and will face New Mexico, while defending national champ Texas takes on Illinois.

Some intriguing matches will take place Friday: Texas freshman sensation Brandon Stone takes on 2012 NCAA medalist Thomas Pieters of Illinois, while Alabama's Justin ...

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Golfweek Staff
The 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.
The 2013 NCAA Championship at Capital City Club Crabapple Course.

MILTON, Ga. -- The matches are set and let the opinions roll.

As always, our Golfweek college experts have something to say on the NCAA Championship's match-play weekend ahead.

Here is a look at their predictions:

• • •

Ron Balicki, Golfweek senior writer

Quarterfinals: California over Arizona State; Illinois over Texas; Georgia Tech over UNLV; Alabama over New Mexico

Semifinals: California over Illinois; Alabama over Georgia Tech

Finals: California over Alabama

• • •

Lance Ringler, Golfweek senior writer

Quarterfinals: Cal over Arizona State; Illiniois over Texas; Georgia Tech over UNLV; New Mexico over Alabama

Semifinals: Cal over Illinois; New Mexico over Georgia Tech

Finals ...

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Ron Balicki
Cal's Brandon Hagy chats with head coach Steve Desimone at No. 15 during the final round of stroke play of the 2013 NCAA Championship.
Cal's Brandon Hagy chats with head coach Steve Desimone at No. 15 during the final round of stroke play of the 2013 NCAA Championship.

— The good news for California is it won the 54-hole stroke-play qualifying portion Thursday and landed the No. 1 seed going into the eight-team match-play bracket that will determine this year’s NCAA champion.

The bad news for the Bears is they won the stroke-play qualifying, and no team in past four years has been medalist then gone on to win the national title.

Cal just might become the first to accomplish the feat. And why not? In what already is an historic season, it only seems appropriate the Bears finish it off in historic fashion.

With a ...

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Cassie Stein
California's Max Homa with head coach Steve Desimone during the final round of stroke play of the 2013 NCAA Championship.
California's Max Homa with head coach Steve Desimone during the final round of stroke play of the 2013 NCAA Championship.

MILTON, Ga. - Déjà vu, anyone?

California’s Max Homa and coach Steve Desimone stood in 18th fairway on Thursday laughing.

In September, Homa and Desimone stood in almost the exact same spot for the Ping/Golfweek Preview with almost the same yardage needing a birdie to share the title with host Georgia Tech.

“He said, ‘Coach I like that (yardage),’ " Desimone said. "He stuck it to 7 or 8 feet, and made birdie."

Only this time was a little bit different.

Homa was up by three shots and trying to win the school's first NCAA individual golf title. With ...

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