Mason Jacobs pulled out a comeback victory over Texas Tech's Will Griffin in 20 holes.
March 21, 2011
Ball Ground, Ga. - For the second day in a row, Illinois pulled out an amazing comeback win at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play. Down for much of the match, the fourth-seeded and sixth-ranked Illini rallied to post a 2-2-1 victory over Texas Tech in the semifinal round to advance to Tuesday's championship, needing extra holes to complete the victory. Illinois will meet 10th-seeded and 22nd-ranked Duke at 7:30 am CT at Hawks Ridge Golf Club in Ball Ground, Ga., in the championship match.
The victory comes a day after Luke Guthrie's up and down on the final hole helped pull out a 1 up win over Jordan Russell and close out a thrilling 3-2 victory for Illinois over fifth-seeded and 11th-ranked Texas A&M, the 2009 NCAA champion. The win over Texas Tech marked the third straight victory on the weekend by Illinois over a Big 12 school, having blanked Baylor, 5-0, in the opening round on Sunday morning.
"All week we've been playing pretty well," Illinois head coach Mike Small. "What I like most from our team is their competitiveness to play through the very end of every match."
At one point during the back nine of Monday's match with Texas Tech, the Illini trailed 3-1-1. With three matches final, the Raiders had two wins in the clubhouse. Nils Floren completed a victory over NCAA champion Scott Langley, 3 and 2, while TTU's Chandler Rusk defeated Illinois freshman Thomas Pieters, 3 and 2.
Illinois senior Chris DeForest completed his third straight victory of the weekend with a win over Tayler Weworksi. The first team All-Big Ten selection posted eight birdies in his 14 holes, including seven in his final nine holes.
That left it up to Guthrie, competing with Matt Smith at the No. 1 spot, and sophomore Mason Jacobs playing against Will Griffin at No. 5. The Illini need both matches to move to the title tilt. Guthrie and Smith were all square through 12 holes before Guthrie won the next three holes and halved the 16th to win the match. That run included birdies on 13 and 15 for Guthrie.
With the team score tied 2-2, all eyes turned to the Jacobs-Griffin match. Jacobs trailed Griffin by two holes with four to play, but rallied to win two of the next four, including the final one, to send it into extra holes. On the first extra hole, Jacobs matched Griffin's birdie, then on the 20th hole, Jacobs birdied after Griffin pared to give Jacobs the victory.
"Mason had a good day and didn't let up," Small said. "Match play can be fickle, so you can even get beat when you're playing well. It has been enjoyable watching all of our guys compete hard."
"I felt I played well all day, but I knew I had pressure to make birdies down the stretch if I wanted to win," Jacobs said. "Match play requires a different mindset than stroke play, which we play most of the year. Coach did a good job of keeping me positive and the team was behind me. I didn't want to let them down."
Fans can follow live scoring Tuesday morning at collegiatematchplay.com.
Third Round Team Results
#4 Illinois def. #9 Texas Tech, 2-2-1 (extra holes)
#10 Duke def. #11 USC, 3-2
#3 Georgia Tech def. #15 East Tennessee State, 3-0-2
#5 Texas A&M def. #1 UCLA, 3-1-1
#8 Georgia def. #12 Pacific, 5-0
#6 Iowa def. #2 Alabama, 4-1
(13th place bracket)
#16 South Carolina def. #13 Baylor, 4-1
#14 Washington State def. # 7 Texas 2-2-1 (extra holes)
#4 Illinois def. #9 Texas Tech 2-2-1 (Illinois wins in extra holes)
No. 1 - Luke Guthrie (ILL) def. Matt Smith, 3 and 2
No. 2 - Nils Floren (TTU) def. Scott Langley, 3 and 2
No. 3 - Chris DeForest (ILL) def. Tyler Weworski, 5 and 4
No. 4 - Chandler Rusk (TTU) def. Thomas Pieters, 3 and 2
No. 5 - Mason Jacobs (ILL) halved Will Griffin (Jacobs wins in 20 holes)
Championship Round Matches (Tuesday at 7:30 am CT)
Illinois vs. Duke (championship)
Texas Tech vs. USC (3rd place)
Georgia Tech vs. Texas A&M (5th place)
East Tennessee State vs. UCLA (7th place)
Georgia vs. Iowa (9th place)
Pacific vs. Alabama (11th place)
South Carolina vs. Washington State (13th place)
Baylor vs. Texas (15th place)