STILLWATER, Okla. – The goal heading into Thursday’s third round was to simply have a tee time at Karsten Creek on Friday.

FRIDAY'S MATCHES
All matches will start from the No. 1 tee. First match will begin at 11 a.m. ET. Final match will start at about 1:30 p.m. ET.
• UCLA vs. Duke
• Georgia Tech vs. Augusta State
• Oklahoma State vs. Ohio State
• Illinois vs. Georgia

Starting the third round of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, four teams were six shots out of third place – San Diego State, Iowa, Arizona State and Duke. Arkansas was four back and Southern California was two behind Texas A&M and Ohio State, who were tied for eighth at 14-over

Augusta State, at 12-over, and Oklahoma State, at 9-over, were certainly not in the clear entering the final round.

To say it was a mad finish for the final spots is a bit of an understatement. Duke finished at 25-over-par and posted a number. Ohio State, Augusta State, Texas A&M and Iowa were all scoreboard watching down the stretch.

Brad Smith drained a 10-foot putt for birdie to drop Ohio State to 23-over. The defending champion Jaguars got a big up-and-down sand save by Patrick Reed on the final hole to hang on at 24-over. Reed shot 71.

Texas A&M, the 2009 NCAA champion, needed a 12-foot birdie putt by Cameron Peck on the final hole to tie Duke at 25-over. But Peck’s putt came up short and the Aggies finished an agonizing ninth.

Only eight remain – UCLA, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Oklahoma State, Georgia, Augusta State, Ohio State and Duke. Match play hits the course at 11 a.m. EST.

Four of the schools – Augusta State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State – have participated in Match Play with the Cowboys the only program to have qualified all three years since its inception. Augusta State beat Tech in last season’s first round and the Cowboys in the final.

“I don’t care what anybody says, it’s hard coming down the stretch like this,” said Augusta State head coach Josh Gregory. “We made it hard on ourselves but the guys found a way to gut it out and get into that top eight. All we were looking for was a tee time tomorrow.”

The Jaguars will be ready.

“I guarantee you we won’t be afraid of anybody in match play,” added Gregory. “We’ve got some guys who’ve been in this situation before.”

Nobody had it easy on Thursday. After two calm days the Oklahoma wind returned for the third round. The best round came from Michigan, who, after rounds of 307 and 292, shot 5-over 293.

Georgia Tech teed off in the lead and shot 302. The Jackets were 11-over for the 54 holes and take the No. 2 seed into match play behind UCLA, who shot 298 and finished at 11-over.

Bruin rookie Patrick Cantlay shot 71 on Thursday and totaled 4-under for the week.

JT Griffin led Tech with a 74. James White, after two rounds in the 60s, shot 76 in round 3.

“I’m just glad to get off the place,” said Tech head coach Bruce Heppler. “We’ve started well the last two days and we didn’t today and obviously when you start there into the teeth of the wind on holes 1, 2, 3 and 4 it’s hard to get something going and then you get behind the eight ball and you start the press and you finally hit a green-in-regulation and then you three putt so it’s hard. I wish we would have handled it a little bit better but we fought back there a little bit at the end.

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“We came here hoping we get to play on Friday and we are so I’m happy with that.”

The host Cowboys shot 6-over on Day 3 and totaled 15-over for the 54 holes, finishing in a tie with Illinois, who shot 301 on Thursday. Kevin Tway had his best day, shooting 72 after rounds of 77 and 74. Peter Uihlein shot 73 for an OSU squad who plays the other OSU in the first round of match play.

“In hindsight, you want to win every tournament you play in,” said OSU coach Mike McGraw. “I guess we accomplished what we needed to accomplish, which was to get to match play. The tournament starts anew tomorrow and it’s going to be exciting; I know it will be.

“It’s been exciting the last two years. I really loved it. It’s been a lot of fun for us to be involved in it. I’m thrilled that we have a chance to do it here at home and I hope that means our fans are going to show up to watch us play because I think they can see a lot of exciting golf.” 

The Buckeyes grinded it out on day 3, shooting a solid 9-over 297. Smith, who drained the key putt on No. 9, shot 71. Alex Redfield carded a 73. Mike Cress shot a second consecutive 75.

“I started out well but I hit a rough stretch … 17 is always tough,” said Cress, who took double-bogey on 17. “I hit another bad tee shot on No. 2 but after that I hit some really good shots. It was just a grind. I had a great up-and-down on [No.] 5.”

With all the chaos going on all over the course Cress kept his focus.

“[Coach Donnie Darr] told us to not look at scoreboards,” said Cress. “It’s hard to do that when you know what’s going on. He really told us to not think about bad shots, just come back and keep going.”

Smith’s birdie putt on the last hole was big. Cress’s up-and-down from the deep rough on the par-3 seventh might have been just as big.

Georgia flirted with disaster, shooting 17-over on Thursday. But the Bulldogs’ 20-over total was good for fifth.

“It was a struggle today,” said Georgia head coach Chris Haack. “It’s just a tough golf course, and it was one of those days where you try to hold on and survive. I was proud of the guys for staying with it. Nobody got down and they fought through it, so it turned out OK.

“Now, anything goes.”

Duke got big rounds from Austin Cody, who shot 72 after two days of 77, and Julian Suri, who shot 73 after opening the tournament with an 81. The Blue Devils face UCLA in Friday's first round of match play.

Alabama entered the tournament ranked third. They experienced a final-round disaster, shooting 28-over 316 and finished 14th. The Tide had three players shoot 80 or above.

“It was just a nightmare day,” said Alabama coach Jay Seawell. “In my wildest dreams, I didn’t think we would play like this. We were right there at the beginning, and we did not play well today, so I’ll take the blame for that. We will get better because of it. It was one of those days that you wish you would never have, but you have to learn from it. Our team has to learn how to manage adversity. Our program will become better because of this.”