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Alabama & Oklahoma State to Vie for NCAA Title
Defending champion Alabama will face Oklahoma State in the final match of the 2014 NCAA Men's Golf Championship.
After edging SMU in the morning quarterfinals 3 and 2, the Crimson Tide had an easier time in Tuesday afternoon's semis, beating SEC rival LSU 4 and 1 at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
Meanwhile, in the tense second semi, OSU squeaked past Stanford 3 and 2. Stanford came into Tuesday morning's quarterfinals as the top-seeded team after winning the stroke-play portion of the tournament.
Alabama was led in the afternoon by Bobby Wyatt, who beat the Fighting Tigers' Benjamin Taylor 3 and 2. Robby Shelton then vanquished Stewart Jolly 2 and 1, and Tom Lovelady got past Smylie Kaufman 1-up.
Trey Mullinax got the fourth point by sweeping past LSU's Curtis Thompson 4 and 2. In the fifth and final match, LSU's Zach Wright edged 'Bama's Cory Whitsett 1-up.
It's the third year in a row Alabama reached the final match (it lost to Texas in 2012), a fact that wasn't lost on Whitsett. "The national championship obviously means so much in every sport, and to make it down to the final match to where it all counts three years in a row is awesome," he said. "So much experience the last three years, between winning and losing, I think it's only going to help us more tomorrow."
"It's extremely exciting for us," added Wyatt. "It's a big moment, the biggest stage in college golf, and to be able to come back to it for a third time is something we're very proud and excited. I've played a lot of golf rounds in my life, and these are the two in the past two years that have stuck out in my mind more than any of them. It's the most intense pressure, it's the most emotional day in my golf career, and I'm really excited we get to do it one more time."
Stanford, led by 2014 individual champion Cameron Wilson, came into the semis off a 3 and 2 win over Illinois in the morning. In their afternoon match against perennial power Oklahoma State, Wilson got the first point for the Cardinal by beating Cowboy Ian Davis 4 and 2.
But OSU answered with its first point when freshman Zachary Olsen beat Stanford's David Boote 3 and 2. Senior Talor Gooch then made a long birdie putt to beat the Cardinal's Maverick McNealy on the third extra hole for the Cowboys' second point.
The crucial third point came when Wyndham Clark of OSU got past Stanford freshman Viraat Badhwar 1-up. Badhwar missed a birdie try on the 17th hole that would have extended the match after Clark just missed his birdie putt for the outright win.
By a 2 and 1 score, Patrick Rodgers beat Cowboy Jordan Niebrugge - the winner of the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links and Western Amateur - in the day's last match for the final 3 and 2 margin.
OSU coach Allan Bratton said of his team's performance at Prairie Dunes: "It has been a great week so far and this is what you play for. That was great theater out there today."
'Bama and OSU will decide who goes home the champion on Wednesday; the final match starts at 1:20 p.m. CT.
For match details, visit http://www.ncaa.com/sports/golf-men/d1/2014-di-mens-golf-team-leaderboard.