HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Top-seeded Stanford ended its remarkable 2013-14 campaign by falling to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships at Prairie Dunes.
The Cardinal defeated Illinois in the quarterfinals Tuesday, 3-2, and gave Oklahoma State all it could handle until suffering a 3-2 semifinal setback.
The defeat marked the end of brilliant careers by senior Cameron Wilson and junior Patrick Rodgers. Wilson went out as the NCAA individual champion, the third player in program history to win the national finale. Rodgers, who will now pursue a professional career, was the Pac-12 Conference champion and tied Tiger Woods’ school-record 11 career wins.
Freshman Viraat Badhwar challenged Oklahoma State’s Wyndham Clark all the way to the finish in a barnburner of a semifinal match. Clark was 1-up heading into 18 and settled for par, leaving Badhwar with an eight-foot putt to force a playoff. Badhwar, who sank a number of putts throughout the week to keep Stanford in the hunt for the national title, missed low and long.
Badhwar removed his visor and shook Clark’s hand, putting an end to a season in which the Cardinal won seven events and its first Pac-12 title since 1994.
Couldn't be more proud of @StanfordMGolf. Played beautifully, competed with grit. Very inspiring to everyone who follows and cheers for you.— Kevin Blue (@kevinablue) May 28, 2014
Badhwar was 3-down through 13 and helped shoulder the load to give Stanford a fighting chance.
Badhwar faced a five-footer for eagle on 17, but it slid by on the right and a good three feet past the hole. He stayed cool and went from trying to square the match to trying to avoid elimination, sinking the birdie comebacker to stay alive.
Proud of everything @StanfordMGolf accomplished this year. Absolute class group of men- all of whom I've learned from. Thanks for the ride!— Henry Plager (@hplager) May 28, 2014
Fellow freshman Maverick McNealy bounced back from a 3&2 defeat in his morning match against Illinois to nearly putting Stanford back in the driver’s seat. McNealy matched Oklahoma State’s Talor Gooch blow for blow in a pair of playoff holes until Gooch drove home a 30-foot birdie putt to win the match in the third extra frame.
Nerves of steel from Stanford's Maverick McNealy. Doesn't get much better than this. #NCAAGolf— Cassie Stein (@GolfweekCassie) May 27, 2014
Oklahoma State got its first point on the board as Zachary Olsen defeated David Boote, 3&2.
Wilson cleaned up a 4&2 win over Ian Davis on the 16th and Rodgers went out on top with a 2&1 win over Jordan Niebrugge.
Wilson clinched the morning win with a 1-up victory in his match with Illinois.
In the decisive match against Illinois’ Alex Burge, Wilson made a two-putt birdie on 17th hole and then sank a three-foot par putt on 18 to win.
“Yesterday, I was excited to be in that position, and of course you wanted to win desperately, but I had to put the team on my back this afternoon and it was staring me in the face,” Wilson said. “If I didn’t win it was my last few holes in college golf.
Alabama will attempt to defend its NCAA title when it faces Oklahoma State in the final match of the team competition.