Ducks lose to Sooners in NCAA Championships, failing to repeat as champions
Facing an uphill battle throughout the NCAA Championships, the Oregon Ducks golf team played from behind throughout the six-day event in Sugar Grove, Illinois, and couldn’t come back against the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Ducks trailed throughout and lost the national championship to the Sooners, finishing the NCAA tournament as runner-ups.
Teeing off the first two matches of the championship match, freshman Norman Xiong lost his match 4&3 and Edwin Yi lost his match 3&2 to put the Ducks in tough deficit.
The Ducks needed points from Wyndham Clark, Ryan Gronlund and Sulman Raza to repeat as champions.
The match ended up coming down to Raza versus Brad Dalke matchup, the last to tee off on Wednesday. Raza lost holes 14 and 15 to drop into a three-hole deficit with three to play.
Being in clutch situations is nothing new for Raza. He was responsible for knocking in the winning putt in last year’s national championship, as well as the clinching putts in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Tuesday.
Raza kept the Ducks alive by winning the 16th hole with a critical putt to keep the Ducks chances alive, but he put his tee shot on the 17th hole in the weeds to set him back. This set up Oklahoma’s Brad Dalke to knock in the clinching bogey putt that won the national championship for the Sooners.
For Raza, it was his first loss in six NCAA championship match play events.
“It was an incredible run for us,” head coach Casey Martin said in a television interview. “To get back to defend our title and get to this point is awesome. We did come up short but it wasn’t because we weren’t fighting and scrapping. We were doing everything we could. Oklahoma played great, and congrats to them.”
No. 1 collegiate golfer Wyndham Clark won two of the first three holes in his match and had a one-hole advantage over Rylee Reinertson after the 16th hole. Clark closed out his match 1-up and scored the only point for the Ducks in the championship match.
“Top level competitive golf is hard and you’ve got to really dig deep,” Martin said. “My guys did that, and so as a coach you’re so proud of them. It hurts right now, but we had memories this year and it was an incredible run. Winning the Pac-12 championship and getting this far is really special.”
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter: @zlast3445
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.