Eight teams teed of on Friday with a dream and a chance at a national championship.
Match play started mid Friday morning at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship held at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple course in Milton Ga.
Team match play can be exciting and with matchups like California playing Arizona State, Texas tangling with Illinois, Georgia Tech taking on UNLV and Alabama squaring off with New Mexico, almost anything could happen.
A heavily favored Cal team took to the course Friday morning, but Arizona State jumped out quickly, taking a lead in three matches halfway through the front nine. But the Bears roared back on the back nine. With NCAA individual champ Max Homa and Joel Stalter leading the way, Cal edged Arizona State 3-2 to advance.
Cal has spent nearly the entire 2012-13 season as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team. The Bears first moved into the spot in the Golfstat, Golfweek and GolfWorld/Nike national polls that followed their victory at the PING/Golfweek Preview in late September and have not left the top spot in any of the polls since.
California Coach Steve Desimone says sometimes playing an opponent that is familiar with you can be tough.
“They’re very familiar with us. We’ve played with them a couple of times. I think that familiarity works for the team that is the challenger as opposed to the one that is standing up there at the top.”
Texas and Illinois swapped leads numerous times before the Illini grabbed a lead on the back nine.
Illinois held on to take the first three matches that wrapped up, and they earned their spot in tomorrow’s semifinals.
Illinois Coach Mike Small says his young team really came through in the clutch.
“I think, for a young team. You don’t want it to be all good or all bad. You’ve got to make improvement. It’s a pretty big statement on these kids to take some adversity throughout the year and turn it around and do this at the end of the season.”
Georgia Tech is loving the home cooking here at the Capital City Club, but they hooked up with UNLV on Friday and the match went to extra holes. It took a birdie on the first extra hole to send the Jackets to the final four.
Georgia Tech Head Coach Bruce Heppler was beaming with pride after the win.
“These guys are great. Last year they missed in Oklahoma, they finished sixth in the regional and that was awful. They came back with focus and a commitment to do better and learn. They’re a year older and they got some stuff done here today. I’ve got great guys. They are Dean’s List students Three or four of these guys could actually be Academic All-Americans when they’re eligible next year. It’s just an awesome bunch of guys.”
Alabama and New Mexico were the last matches off on Friday. Early on, it appeared it was going to be all Tide and they did roll to a 4-1 win over the Lobos.
One of these four teams will be crowned the NCAA champ on Sunday at the Capital City Club – Crabapple. Come out and see this great golf.
2013 NCAA DIVISION I MEN’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
Where: Capital City Club – Crabapple Course, Milton, Ga.
When: May 27-June 2, 2013
Who: 30 teams advancing from six regional tournaments held around the country May 16-18
Remaining Format: Top eight teams advance to match play championship May 31-June 2
Course information: 7,319 yards, par 70, Bermuda fairways and rough, bentgrass greens
Tickets: Tournament book $50 adults/$35 youths and seniors; daily ticket $15 adult/$10 youths and seniors