Illini Fall to Top-Seeded Stanford in NCAA Match Play
May 27, 2014
HUTCHINSON, Kan. - It came down to the final putt on the final hole of the final match, but No. 8 Illinois fell just short against top-seeded Stanford as the Cardinal took a 3-2 win in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships at Prairie Dunes Country Club on Tuesday. The Fighting Illini finish tied for fifth for the second time in the last four years, giving them three top-five finishes in that span when the 2013 runner-up finish is included.
Junior Brian Campbell won his match 3 & 2, while sophomore Thomas Detry took his by a 1-up margin. Sophomore Charlie Danielson and junior Alex Burge each lost their matches 1-up, while senior Jonathan Hauter fell by a 3 & 2 mark.
With the match tied 2-2, Burge went to No. 16 all square with Cameron Wilson, who less than 24 hours earlier had won a playoff to earn an individual NCAA championship. Burge and Wilson halved 16, but Burge's tee shot on No. 17 was off to the left and he had to lay up in the fairway at the par-5. Burge had a 15-footer for birdie to halve the hole but left it just short as Wilson two-putted for birdie to win the hole and take a 1-up lead.
On No. 18, Wilson drilled it down the fairway and Burge's tee shot was off to the left, behind a dune. He made an incredible blind iron shot to 15 feet from the pin, while Wilson's approach landed 40 feet from the pin. He left his birdie putt two feet left of the hole, giving Burge one last opportunity to win the hole and send the match to a playoff. But Burge's birdie putt stayed just left of the hole, Wilson rolled in his two-footer and Stanford took the 1-up victory to seal a 3-2 team victory.
"When you're in the quarterfinals of the national championship and it comes down to one hole, that's a pretty good match," Illini coach Mike Small said. "We had a lot of good play out there, a lot of tough play all year that was shown again today. And we had it set up the way we wanted it, too. They just made more putts. I saw a few chip-ins, I saw more putts being made and longer putts, and that's what separates you, especially when it comes down to one hole.
"They're a good team," Small said of Stanford. "When you had the No. 1 amateur in the world, the NCAA champion and the guy who finishes third in the NCAA Championship, that's pretty strong. And we took them to the last hole. It's fun to compete and it's fun to hang with these guys. Unfortunately, it ended a day too early but fifth in the country isn't something to shake a stick at."
For Illinois to get to 2-2, Campbell continued his strong play of late, winning 3 & 2 over Maverick McNealy when Campbell won holes 13-15 and the pair halved No. 16. Shortly after that, Stanford's Patrick Rodgers - one of the top players in the nation, who took third in the individual tournament at the NCAA Championships - took a 3 & 2 win over Illini Hauter when that duo halved No. 16. Rodgers had a 3-up lead after 13 but Hauter battled back with a win at No. 14 to cut the margin to 2-down with four holes left. He dropped No. 15, though, and the pair halved the 16th to end the match.
As that match was finishing, Detry won his match 1-up by recovering from three straight hole losses to win Nos. 17 and 18 and take the match. On 18, Detry had a 25-footer for birdie that he left just inches short and Stanford's David Boote had a seven-footer for par. But he missed it, giving Detry the win, 1-up.
Next up was Danielson's match won three holes and lost one from holes 8-11 to square his match with Viraat Badhwar. He lost the 13th but won the 14th, then the pair parred 15 to head down the stretch with three holes left. Danielson bogeyed the 16th and Badhwar parred, giving him a 1-up lead. Then each man birdied the par-5 17th and they headed down 18 with the Cardinal golfer leading by one. Badhwar hit his approach to 40 feet on the green, while Danielson's shot landed just onto the rough 25 feet from the pin. He chipped it up and scalded the lip on the left side of the hole, nearly holing out to force a playoff. But he parred the hole and Badhwar knocked in a six-footer to seal his 1-up win.