Last spring, Alabama was blanked 5-0 by Oklahoma State in the final of the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek.
Different season. Different setting. Different result.
The Crimson Tide, led by senior Davis Riley and a slew of underclassmen, defeated the top-ranked Cowboys, 3-2, in the semifinals of the East Lake Cup Tuesday in Atlanta.
“We respect the world out of Oklahoma State,” Alabama head coach Jay Seawell said. “They are very good and they have shown that all year. But we are not too bad, either. I felt like everybody was talking about that it was going to be a David vs Goliath. I just reminded them that this was Goliath vs. Goliath.”
Oklahoma State’s two best players, junior Viktor Hovland and sophomore Matt Wolff, posted wins in the first two matches, but Alabama won the final three. Riley rolled to a 4-and-3 victory over senior Zach Bauchou and freshman Prescott Butler beat senior Hayden Wood, 3 and 2.
That left it up to Crimson Tide sophomore Wilson Furr, who was 3 down after four holes to sophomore Austin Eckroat. But Furr, who had just gotten done playing in the Sanderson Farms Championship (he missed the cut), battled back, squaring the match with three holes to play.
Furr then won the final two holes, including the par-5 18th with eagle, to send the Tide to Wednesday’s final, where they will play rival Auburn. The Tigers beat Duke, 4-1.
Seawell isn’t concerned about a potential hangover for his team, which is ranked fourth in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings.
“We’re playing Auburn,” Seawell said. “Enough said.”
Oklahoma State has now failed to win both match-play competitions that it has played in this fall. The Cowboys were fourth at the Big 12 Match Play. However, they have won both of their stroke-play tournaments when at full strength, the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational and the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. Oklahoma State was third at the Carmel Cup, but that was without Viktor Hovland.
“We’ve got a good team,” Oklahoma State head coach Alan Bratton said. “We’ve had good things, bad things. We’ve got plenty to work on, and it’s a long year. Our goals are set for what happens come the end of the year, so we’ll stay focused on that and get just a little bit better every day.”
On the women’s side, USC will meet Stanford in the final after the Trojans beat Arizona in the semifinals. The Cardinal took down depleted Alabama, which was missing its top two players, Kristen Gillman and Lauren Stephenson, because of LPGA Q-Series.