The Cowboys rode past the Southern Methodist Mustangs 4-1 in the match play quarterfinals at Blessing Creek Golf Club this morning. Then lost 3-2 to Texas in the semi-final, ending their bid for a second straight national title.
Viktor Hovland gave OSU a head start with an easy 5&4 victory over SMU’s senior Ben Wong.
They were tied after the front nine, then Hovland won five holes in a row to seal the Cowboys’ first point.
Matthew Wolff, Hayden Wood, and Austin Eckroat each won their matches 2&1.
Zach Bauchou conceded the only point 3&2 to SMU sophomore Mac Meissner.
This was SMU’s first appearance in matchplay since 2014 when they lost Alabama, who ultimately won the National Championship over OSU.
Texas advanced past their Red RIver Rival Oklahoma with a narrow 3-2 win, which was sealed by a 1UP victory by Parker Coody over Garett Reband.
On the other side of the bracket, Vanderbilt beat Texas A&M 3-2 with a 19 hole victory from SEC Player of the Year Will Gordon. And Stanford handled Wake Forest 3-2.
The semifinal against Texas was nail biting. The Longhorns played formidably. They led 3-0-2 through the front nine, weathered a gritty OSU comeback, and ultimately won after a dramatic 19 hole bout between seniors Zach Bauchou and Steven Chervoney.
Two Cowboy players had won and two lost when Bauchou stood in the dark over a four foot par putt to force a twentieth hole. He missed the putt by a quarter of an inch; it toileted around the lip and sat there teasingly to signify the end to the Cowboys great season.
The senior from Virginia need not hang his head.
“There’s no one on the team I’d rather have in that spot,” said OSU head Coach Alan Bratton of his fun-loving anchor in an interview on the Golf Channel, “he’s been a star for us.”
Bauchou played well down the stretch and was level-headed as he sank a twenty foot birdie putt on the 17th to take a 1UP lead.
The Longhorns’ two time academic MVP Chervoney was equally composed as he holed a birdie on 18 to force the playoff which he ultimately won to advance the Longhorns to the National Championship.
Texas coached and played a terrific round of golf.
Longhorn head coach John Fields aggressively matched Freshman phenom Cole Hammer against Wolff, hoping a victory would boost the rest of his team.
Hammer outplayed the individual national champion the whole round, taking a lead on the first hole and never giving it up. He would put the nail in the coffin with a par putt on the 15th to win 4&3. It’s easy to get caught up in the Bauchou and Chervoney dual, but Hammer’s win was the biggest performance of the day.
A big 5&4 win from Texas’ Pierceson Coody over Wood ensued.
Hovland was tied with junior Spencer Soosman through eleven. Then he tried to run away with the lead on the back nine, as he did earlier in the day, winning three straight holes from 12-14. But Soosman cut the lead back to one on 16. The Hogan Award winner manned up and birdied the 17th to win 2&1.
Austin Eckroat was the most consistent Cowboy golfer all week, which continued today. He made clutch puts down the stretch on 11, 12, and 15 to beat Parker Coody 4&2.
I said on Friday-- when Wolff and Hovland both struggled-- that OSU’s depth was the reason they could win their second straight title. Still, in matchplay, you need your best players to win. Wolff got hammered (get it?), and their depth came up unfortunately short, despite a gallant effort.
The matchup today showed the controversy of the matchplay format. OSU won stroke play by 31 strokes, they beat Texas by 44. Wolff beat Hammer in the individuals by 21. Yet the format gives the underdogs a chance. You can be the best team by a mile, as OSU most certainly is, but matchplay is madness.
In the other semifinal, Isaiah Salinda, Brandon Wu and Daulet Tuleubayev led Stanford over Vanderbilt 3-2.
Texas and Stanford will face off in the National Championship tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. on the Golf Channel.