Team of destiny: Playoff win takes SMU Mustangs' postseason joyride into match play

Adam Woodard/Golfweek

Team of destiny: Playoff win takes SMU Mustangs' postseason joyride into match play

College

Team of destiny: Playoff win takes SMU Mustangs' postseason joyride into match play

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It couldn’t have happened any other way.

After winning a five-player playoff against Clemson, the SMU men’s golf team – the 30th seed out of 30 teams at the 2019 NCAA Men’s Div. I Golf Championship – placed in the top eight to qualify for match play.

“We were the 30th seed here, and to make it to match play without a little number by our name, it’s just meant to be,” said SMU head coach Jason Enloe. “It wouldn’t have been fitting if it wasn’t hard. It’s been a hard year for everybody.”

Saying it’s been a hard year puts it lightly.

Last summer, Enloe lost his beloved wife, Katie, to leukemia. After his team finished fourth at the Athens regional, Enloe said his team has “made the journey bearable.”

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The team played well in the fall, earning a handful of victories and solid finishes to carry some momentum into the spring portion of the season. Then came Stanford’s The Goodwin.

Ironically, SMU sophomore Noah Goodwin was forced to withdraw due to an injury, leaving the team to compete with four players. Shortly after the final round, the team noticed that freshman Ben Wong’s score was incorrect. He signed for 70 when he shot 71. The Mustangs were then unable to field a full team of scores and were forced to take a loss to the entire field.

How do they respond?

By placing second at the American Athletic Conference Championship, with sophomore Mac Meissner taking medalist honors, and earning a spot in the postseason.

“With everything that’s happened this year, it’s only fitting that it ended (in a playoff)” said Meissner, who missed a putt on the final hole to set up the playoff with Clemson. “It was a bummer to miss that putt on nine, I felt horrible for my team, but they all picked me up, told me it was alright and that we were going to go destroy (Clemson) in the playoff.”

And that’s precisely how it played out, with Meissner hitting the clinching putt to carry the Ponies into match play.

“I was so happy (for Meissner) because he probably felt the weight of the world on his shoulder and I just wanted him to play a good hole so he could feel like he closed it out for us,” said Enloe. “We’ve got to be a team of destiny.”

The Mustangs postseason joyride continues Tuesday morning in the match play quarterfinals against No. 1 seed and defending champion Oklahoma State.

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