May 26, 2014
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (SMU) - The SMU Mustangs finished the stroke play portion of the NCAA Championships at five-over par, tying them for seventh with No. 9 Illinois and securing a place in the eight-team match play playoff to determine the national champion. The playoff will begin tomorrow morning, with SMU taking on defending national champion Alabama at the Prairie Dunes Country Club.
The quarterfinals and semifinals will take place tomorrow, with the final round on Wednesday. Golf Channel's live coverage will begin with the semifinals at 4 p.m. CT.
"Wow, that was a grind," SMU head coach Josh Gregory said. "We can't wait to get to compete for a national championship starting tomorrow. I'm so proud of these kids. They have truly put SMU on the college golf map. As I have been saying all week; why not us?"
Sophomore Bryson Dechambeau carded his third straight one-under 69 on Monday, giving him a three-under 207 final score. Dechambeau tied for ninth individually, giving SMU its first individual top-10 finish at the NCAA Championship since Christian Chernock tied for 10th in 1994. Dechambeau got to as low as five-under par and within one stroke of the lead after tallying four birdies between holes 4-10.
Austin Smotherman gave the Mustangs their next highest finish, tying for 29th at even par for the event. Ryan Burgess posted a solid even-par final round, giving him two rounds at par or better for the tournament.
SMU and Illinois spent the end of the day in the clubhouse waiting on the final group that included No. 21 UCLA, No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 24 South Carolina. SMU and Illinois were tied for eighth, with UCLA and South Carolina tied for sixth, one stroke ahead. A late double bogey on the par-four ninth hole by the Gamecocks pushed Illinois and SMU back into the top eight and into the playoff. South Carolina finished ninth, one shot back of the Mustangs and Illinois.
SMU never left the top eight all day, and was as high as fourth for a portion of the round. No. 3 Stanford took first in stroke play, followed by No. 1 Alabama, No. 16 LSU, No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Georgia Tech and UCLA in sixth. Stanford's Cameron Wilson won the individual national title after a three-hole playoff with Ollie Schniderjans of Georgia Tech.
With the eight-team playoff format, SMU has already guaranteed its best national finish since taking eighth in 1972. The Mustangs are playing in their first NCAA Championship since 2005.
Coach Gregory, who won two national championships in the match-play format at Augusta State in 2010 and 2011, does not underestimate what this means for his squad.
"Tomorrow will be a special day for our kids and our program and we will enjoy every second of it," Gregory stated.
SMU's quarterfinal matchup with Alabama will begin tomorrow at 7 a.m.
SMU vs. Alabama Quarterfinal Pairings:
Austin Smotherman vs. Bobby Wyatt - 7 a.m.
Andrew Buchanan vs. Robby Shelton - 7:10 a.m.
Harry Higgs vs. Tom Lovelady - 7:20 a.m.
Bryson Dechambeau vs. Trey Mullinax - 7:30 a.m.
Ryan Burgess vs. Cory Whitsett - 7:40 a.m.