STILLWATER, Okla. – The field of the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships was narrowed to two, as Alabama and Oklahoma State clinched their spots in the finals with a pair of match-play victories on Tuesday at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The two teams will meet on Wednesday, teeing off at 2:25 p.m. CT.
This year’s national championship match marks the first time that Alabama and Oklahoma State will meet with the title on the line since 2014, when the Crimson Tide bested the Cowboys at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The Crimson Tide were the first to advance, as they put together a dominant showing against a scrappy Duke squad that was seeded second in the match-play portion of the championships. Alabama’s Davis Shore, who clinched the Tide’s quarterfinal victory, built on his earlier momentum with a 6&5 victory over Duke’s Jake Shuman.
Lee Hodges followed with a 3&2 scoreline and then Davis Riley capped Alabama’s dominant semifinal showing with a 3&2 victory over his own over Blue Devil freshman Adrien Pendaries. The Crimson Tide led in both of the remaining matches, with Wilson Furr two-up through 15 holes and Jonathan Hardee leading by three through 13.
“I think the emotion of the day with everybody in the morning kind of just relaxed everybody, and we got off to a good start,” Alabama coach Jay Seawell said. “In the middle of the round we kind of got up on Duke a little bit and were able to hit some great golf shots, so our guys I think just fed off what happened in the morning, and I'm proud of them. It's a big opportunity they have before them that very few people ever get to do. I'm excited for the guys. They worked tremendously hard. I'm thankful for Coach Howell and what he does with the guys, also. You work your whole life to do this.”
Oklahoma State’s route to the championship was a bit more dramatic, although the Cowboys were in control of their matchup against fifth-seeded Auburn throughout. Viktor Hovland, playing in the first match on, provided Oklahoma State with its first point of the contest, besting Auburn’s Jovan Rebula, 4&3.
Hovland’s win was followed by junior Zach Bauchou, who downed Wells Padgett by the same 4&3 scoreline. Freshman Austin Eckroat then followed up on his match-clinching victory in the quarterfinals by again provided the winning point, as he bested Auburn’s Brandon Mancheno, 3&2, to send Oklahoma State to the finals.
“We had a lot of goals for the week and we took care of the first one in stroke play,” Oklahoma State coach Alan Bratton said. “Next was to win the first match, then win the semifinal match. That’s three down and the ultimate goal tomorrow. I’m just pleased with our guys. We’ve had contributions 1-5 in the lineup this week, so I’m pleased with our play and we’ve got a job to do tomorrow.”
On Wednesday, Alabama will be seeking its third overall national title and first since 2014, while Oklahoma State is seeking an 11th NCAA championship and first since 2006