Sports

Stanford men bow out of NCAA golf championships

 

The top-seeded Stanford men's golf team ended its season Tuesday, falling to Oklahoma State, 3-2, in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Kansas.

The Cardinal defeated Illinois in the quarterfinals Tuesday, 3-2, and gave Oklahoma State all it could handle until suffering a 3-2 semifinal setback.

The defeat marked the end of brilliant careers by senior Cameron Wilson and junior Patrick Rodgers.

Wilson went out as the NCAA individual champion, the third player in program history to win the national finale. Rodgers, who will now pursue a professional career, was the Pac-12 Conference champion and tied Tiger Woods' school-record 11 career wins.

Freshman Viraat Badhwar challenged Oklahoma State's Wyndham Clark all the way to the finish in a barnburner of a semifinal match.

Clark was 1-up heading into 18 and settled for par, leaving Badhwar with an eight-foot putt to force a playoff.

Badhwar, who sank a number of putts throughout the week to keep Stanford in the hunt for the national title, missed low and long.

Badhwar removed his visor and shook Clark's hand, putting an end to a season in which the Cardinal won seven events and its first Pac-12 title since 1994.

Badhwar was 3-down through 13 and helped shoulder the load to give Stanford a fighting chance.

Badhwar faced a five-footer for eagle on 17, but it slid by on the right and a good three feet past the hole. He stayed cool and went from trying to square the match to trying to avoid elimination, sinking the birdie comebacker to stay alive.

Fellow freshman Maverick McNealy bounced back from a 3&2 defeat in his morning match against Illinois to nearly putting Stanford back in the driver's seat.

McNealy matched Oklahoma State's Talor Gooch blow for blow in a pair of playoff holes until Gooch drove home a 30-foot birdie putt to win the match in the third extra frame.

Oklahoma State got its first point on the board as Zachary Olsen defeated David Boote, 3&2.

Wilson cleaned up a 4&2 win over Ian Davis on the 16th and Rodgers went out on top with a 2&1 win over Jordan Niebrugge.

Wilson clinched the morning win with a 1-up victory in his match with Illinois.

In the decisive match against Illinois' Alex Burge, Wilson made a two-putt birdie on 17th hole and then sank a three-foot par putt on 18 to win.

"Yesterday, I was excited to be in that position, and of course you wanted to win desperately, but I had to put the team on my back this afternoon and it was staring me in the face," Wilson said. "If I didn't win it was my last few holes in college golf.

Alabama will attempt to defend its NCAA title when it faces Oklahoma State in the final match of the team competition.

Rick Eymer

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