(STILLWATER, Oklahoma / May 29, 2018) – The Oklahoma State golf team defeated No. 5 seed Auburn, 3-2, in the NCAA match play semifinals Monday afternoon to advance to the national title match for the third time since the championships added match play in 2009.
The Cowboys will take on sixth-seeded Alabama on Tuesday at 2:25 p.m for the NCAA Championship. OSU is aiming for its 11th title in the program’s history.
"We had a lot of goals for the week, and we took care of the first one in the stroke play,” head 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 from our guys. We've had contributions one through five in the lineup this week, so I'm pleased with our play. We’ve got a job to do tomorrow."
Viktor Hovland was the first on the board for the Cowboys, defeating Jovan Rebula by a 4 and 3 score to put the Pokes up, 1-0. Taking the second hole to go 1-up early, Hovland led from that point on and didn’t give up a single hole throughout the entirety of the match.
Auburn tied up the score shortly after Hovland’s win, as Auburn’s Ben Schlottman knocked off OSU senior Kristoffer Ventura, 5 and 4, to knot up the score at one apiece.
Zach Bauchou put the Cowboys back in the lead with a 4 and 3 win over Wells Padgett. Bauchou maintained a steady, 1-up lead for most of the first six holes before taking the seventh with a par to stretch his lead to 2-up. From that point, the OSU junior opened it up and would increase his advantage to as large as 5-up by the 10th hole.
“My short game was really good out there today,” Bauchou said. “The chip shot at 10 was really nice. I had a really tough approach shot just to get it to where I was, was a pretty good shot. The chip and the putt was nice. The bunker shot on nine was okay, but the putt was good. When you make a nice putt like that it makes your bunker game a lot better.”
After Auburn’s Trace Crowe evened the score again at two with a 2 and 1 win over Matthew Wolfe, it was up to Austin Eckroat to will the Cowboys to the finals. The freshman led, 3-up, heading to the 16th and just needed to halve the hole for the Cowboys to advance. Eckroat and opponent Brandon Mancheno would both card pars on the hole, and Eckroat would take the match, three and two.
“Whenever you have a big lead you are not sure if you should press and keep going to just play conservative and maintain a lead,” Eckroat said. “I think I did a pretty good job of a happy medium. It is just hard to close out a match, especially with someone as good as Brandon [Mancheno], who was putting a lot of good shots together.”
Fans can watch the finals on Wednesday afternoon live on Golf Channel, or follow live scoring on golfstat.com.