Upstart Oregon joins Texas, Alabama and California in NCAA semifinals

Oregon
University of Oregon
Oregon got victories from three seniors in Friday's first day of match play to advance to the national semifinals.
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PGA.com news services

Series: Other Tour

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. — Seniors Eugene Wong, Daniel Miernicki and Andrew Vijarro led Oregon to a thrilling 3-2 victory against second-seeded UCLA on Friday in the quarterfinals of the men’s  NCAA Division I  national championship at storied Riviera Country Club.

Oregon will square off against top-ranked Texas on Saturday in one semifinal, while Alabama will face California in the other. The Ducks are the only team remaining with prior experience in NCAA tournament stroke play.

MEN'S FINALS

For complete coverage of the NCAA Division I Men's Finals, go to NCAA.com.

“I couldn’t be more proud or more happy for my guys, especially the seniors,” said Oregon Coach Casey Martin. “They’ve waited two years to get back here and came through for us once again. This meant a lot to them because I think they feel like still have some unfinished business.”

The first three players in top-seeded Alabama’s match-play lineup were able to score victories against their Kent State counterparts and send the Crimson Tide into the semis with a 3 to 1 victory.

Justin Thomas went off first for Alabama and scored a 6 & 5 win against KSU’s Kevin Miller, closing him out with a par on the 13th. Cory Whitsett then dispatched Kyle Kmiecik 5 & 4 on the 14th green to put two early points on the board.

“We had two guys play just fantastic golf [Thomas and Whitsett] and in our tournament schedule we probably would have had a low score today,” Alabama Coach Jay Seawell said. “But you have to get three wins and that last point is always hard. We knew coming in that to get to three [points] is hard.”

Tide junior Scott Strohmeyer, who was the third UA player out on the course, had a commanding 5-up lead through nine holes but saw his lead over the Golden Flashes’ Taylor Pendrith dwindle to 2-up on the 16th. He sunk a long par putt there to halve the hole and then two-putted for birdie on 17 to close out the match, securing the Alabama victory.

Texas advanced with a 5-0 win against No. 6-seed Washington.

Sophomore Toni Hakula got the Longhorns started with a 3 & 2 victory against Charlie Hughes. Hakula won the third and fifth holes to go 2 up, but Hughes rallied back on the sixth and seventh holes to square the match. Hakula closed out his opponent by winning holes 11, 12 and 16 for Texas’ first point.

Freshman Jordan Spieth put the Longhorns up 2-0 with a 4 & 3 win against Ty Chambers. The duo was all square through the first three holes, but Spieth surged ahead with wins on Nos. 4, 5 and 7. After dropping the ninth hole, Spieth took a commanding 4-up lead with back-to-back victories on the 11th and 12th holes. The duo matched one another on Nos. 13, 14 and 15.

Senior Dylan Frittelli battled throughout the first 13 holes with opponent Cheng-Tsung Pan. Pan won the 16th hole after Frittelli went to 3 up with wins on 14 and 15 and forced the match to the 17th hole. The duo halved the hole and Frittelli won 2 & 1 to clinch Texas’ victory.

Cal advanced after a dramatic 3-2 victory against San Diego State. Joël Stalter drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th green to win his match 2 & 1 against Alex Kang and secure the team victory with the match tied 2-2 at that point.

In addition to Stalter’s victory from the No. 5 spot in the lineup, the Golden Bears also picked up wins from their No. 3 and No. 4 players Pace Johnson and Michael Kim. Johnson was a 4 & 3 winner over Matt Hoffenberg, while Kim defeated Tom Berry, 3 & 1.

The Bears needed all three wins from the bottom three players in their lineup with No. 1 Max Homa and No. 2 Brandon Hagy falling to J.J. Spaun and Colin Featherstone, 4 & 3 and 2 & 1.