Thursday, March 23, 2023

Vanderbilt freshman sergeant wins NCAA title in playoff

Scottsdale, Ariz. ( Associated Press) — Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent curled in a short birdie put on the first hole of a four-man playoff on Monday to become the ninth freshman to win an NCAA individual title.

Sargent did not have a birdie during a 4 over 74 at Greyhawk Golf Club, but made the playoff when Eugenio López-Chakra of Oklahoma State made a three-putt for a par-4 17th-place bogey. Sargent hit a huge drive in the playoffs in a 520-yard, par-4 18th position and placed his second shot six feet down the hole.

Texas senior Parker Cuddy closed it from the short left of the green on his birdie attempt, and North Carolina senior Ryan Burnett missed a long birdie putt. After López-Chakra missed a par putt – he was well avoided on the green – the stage was set for Sgt.

The Haskins Award finalist from Birmingham, Alabama, slid the putt to the left bank, causing the crowd and his teammates to roar into the race green in celebration. He is the first freshman since Jamie Lovemark of Southern California to win the individual title in 2007.

Four players finished on an even 280 on Greyhawk’s Raptors course.

Oklahoma senior Chris Gotterup missed two short birdie putts on the back nine and was hit three times for bogeys at number 18 and missed one playoff after another.

A day after Oklahoma’s Patrick Welch scored 63, high winds and strong greens kept players fit for most of the afternoon. Cuddy and Burnett also moved up the leaderboard by shooting on a day when seven out of 84 players were tied.

Sargent entered the final individual round with a one-shot lead over Gottrp after both scored 68s in Sunday’s third round.

The sergeant worked through the front nine in difficult conditions, finishing with three bogeys and no birdie. He still managed to tie for the lead at 1 under, but a bogey on the 16th par-3 put him a shot behind López-Chacarra. He passed the final two holes when López-Chakra had a three-barreled bogey on the 17th to take the lead.

Burnett, who had started four shots back on par in the final round, had three birdies to make the turn at 1-under 34. He went for 1 over with bogeys at No 11 and 15 but was pulled into a tie for the lead. Birdie at number 17.

Coody started his final round at number 10, four shots behind, and made the turn in 2 overs 37. The Texans reeled three straight birdies starting at No. 3 to tie Sargent for the lead at 1 under, but closed with a par-4 bogie on ninth to fall once behind.

Like the sergeant, he proceeded with López-Chakra’s bogey at 17.

López-Chakra overcame a triple bogey on a long par-4 seventh and a short birdie on par-4 15th to tie Sargent for the lead. López-Chakra went into one lead after another as the others stumbled, but hit his tee shot on the short par-4 17th under a bush.

He only managed to cut it down to a three-putt on the multi-level green, setting up the playoffs.

Vanderbilt, Oklahoma and North Carolina tied for the leading edge in Tuesday’s team match play. Texas, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, Arizona State and Texas Tech also qualified to play the match.


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