Arkansas, Texas A&M reach golf finals
TOLEDO, Ohio -- David Lingmerth aced the third hole and won his match in the semifinals Friday, helping fourth-seeded Arkansas advance to the NCAA Division I men's team championship against Texas A&M.
While the Razorbacks beat eighth-seeded giant-killer Georgia 3-1-1, seventh-seeded Texas A&M edged sixth-seeded Michigan 3-1-1 in a dramatic finish in the other semifinal. The Razorbacks and Aggies are both seeking their first golf title.
Matt Van Zandt clinched the decisive point for A&M with a conceded birdie after chopping a wedge out of the high rough from 96 yards to 15 feet from the pin.
Georgia beat top-seeded Oklahoma State 3-2 with a late surge earlier in the day's first quarterfinal.
Arkansas and A&M will meet for the title with 18 holes of match play Saturday.
Lingmerth, a junior from Sweden, holed a 7-iron from 202 yards to build a 2-up lead. He ended up with a 3-and-2 victory over Georgia's Hudson Swafford.
Other winners for the Razorbacks included Jamie Marshall, 1-up over Adam Mitchell, and Jason Cuthbertson, 2-and-1 over Harris English. Georgia's Russell Henley defeated Arkansas' Ethan Tracy 2-and-1. Brian Harman, who had led Georgia to the upset of Oklahoma State, halved his match with Andrew Landry.
The second semifinal was precisely why the NCAA changed formats this season -- to create more drama thanks to head-to-head match play. This is the first year the tournament format has been 54 holes of medal play to determine the individual medalist and the seeding for the top eight teams, followed by two days of match play to determine the team champion.
Arkansas had won two matches, Michigan had won one and a fourth was all square as Van Zandt carried a 1-up lead to the 17th green. After Van Zandt, whose score had not been counted in each of the three medal-play rounds, barely missed a 12-foot birdie putt, Michigan's Bill Rankin calmly rolled in a 10-footer for birdie to square the match while a few hundred fans -- most of them Michigan supporters -- cheered.
Both hit driver on the par-4 18th, with Rankin's ball coming to rest a couple of feet above a deep fairway bunker set in the side of a hill. He had an awkward stance, and the ball was settled down in the deep rough at Inverness Club.
Hitting first, he punched the ball out but it hit on the back of the green and took one bounce into a bunker.
Van Zandt was 20 yards in front of him, with a better lie but still in the deep rough. He popped out a wedge that landed in the middle of the green and ended up below the hole, which was located on a shelf on the back right portion of the green. He pumped his fist and yelled, "WOOO!" when the ball stayed on the putting surface.
Rankin blasted out of the bunker but his shot rolled past the pin and rolled off the severe side of the green and into deep rough. From there, he took another mighty swing, the ball catching the edge of the hole before running several feet past.
Rankin then conceded Van Zandt's putt, giving the Razorbacks the third point they needed to advance.
In addition to Van Zandt's 1-up win, teammates Andrea Pavan beat Alexander Sitompul 8-and-7 and Bronson Burgoon topped Lion Kim 4-and-3. The Wolverines' lone point came from Nick Pumford's 2-and-1 victory over Conrad Shindler, with A&M's John Hurley and Michigan's Matt Thompson fighting to a draw.
Georgia shocked the tournament when it upset Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals after finishing 20 strokes behind the Cowboys in medal play.
The match came down to the No. 1 players for each team, with Harman defeating Rickie Fowler 1-up by overcoming a 1-down deficit over the last two holes. Harman birdied the final three holes, hitting a 4½-foot putt on the 18th green to take the point.
In other quarterfinal matches, No. 4 Arkansas beat No. 5 Washington 3-2; No. 7 Texas A&M beat No. 2 Arizona State 3-1-1; and No. 6 Michigan beat No. 3 Southern California 3-2.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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