In any sport featuring an end-of-season tournament, the overall best team doesn't always necessarily win -- that's just part of the fun in it. No, winning is made up of two things: making it into the tournament, and playing your best at the time of the tournament. Tech's golf team accomplished both of these things, and it took them quite a long way in the NCAA Golf Championship.
Entering the tournament ranked 7th, Tech jumped out to a fast start by finishing 6-under as a team on the 28th, putting them in 2nd place behind 10-under Arizona State. Another 18 holes of stroke play on Wednesday later, and Tech had taken over the lead with another day of 6-under golf as a team. The cumulative score of 12-under put them one stroke ahead of top-ranked California, and at the top of the leaderboard. Thursday was the final round of stroke play, which saw Tech finish the round at 10-under -- good for second place among all of the teams competing.
This second place finish earned them a two-seed for the match play round which began Friday, when they took on 7-seed UNLV. The end of the round saw the two teams tied, forcing extra holes. Team star Ollie Schniederjans sank a three-foot putt for birdie on the first extra hole to give Tech the win 3-2 and send them to the Final Four to face Alabama. Unfortunately it was Alabama that would eliminate Tech, taking 3 of the 5 matches while the other two were tied. Alabama went on to defeat Illinois on Sunday by a score of 4-1 to take their first National Championship in golf.
"Not the way we wanted to end our season, but our guys fought really hard," said Tech coach Bruce Heppler. "From the time Bobby (Wyatt) and Cory (Whitsett) got to Tuscaloosa, that's been one of the best teams in the country. It's no shame to lose to them. They got all the way to the finals last year, and they know how it feels to win this, and they have another chance in the finals tomorrow. But our guys fought hard, and we've had a good week here, and we'll see how hard they want to get back again."
Golf isn't a sport that gets much attention, but the successes that our teams have aside from football, basketball, and baseball need to be recognized and celebrated. Congratulations to our Men's Golf team on an outstanding season, and on making it to the Final Four of the NCAA Men's Golf Championships!