May 31, 2016
by Rob Moseley
Photo: Andy McNamara/Eric Evans
EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon is one of the final four teams alive for the NCAA men’s golf team championship, after the Ducks won their match-play quarterfinal against LSU on Tuesday morning at Eugene Country Club, 3-1-1.
A day after winning the individual national title, UO sophomore Aaron Wise drained a long putt on his 16th hole that clinched his match Tuesday morning. Senior Zach Foushee and junior Sulman Raza already were in the clubhouse with wins, making moot Thomas Lim’s match that was headed to extra holes.
The Ducks, who also reached the semifinals in 2010 and 2012, moved on to face Illinois with a spot in Wednesday’s NCAA final at stake. Oregon and the Illini were to play off the No. 1 tee later Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m.
Oregon started slow Tuesday morning, with all five Ducks trailing their matches through four holes. Neither Lim nor freshman Edwin Yi, who lost 2 and 1, ever led, but the other three UO players rallied.
“The day started very poorly,” UO coach Casey Martin said. “Obviously, I was worried about that because we had such an emotional high yesterday, and we had to turn around, get six hours of sleep and do it again. We were not good. Our first three holes were horrible, and I was kind of stressed out. Fortunately the guys are competitors and they rallied, and we had some mojo going on in the back, and it was really fun to be a part of.”
The most dramatic win for the Ducks was their first of the day. Playing in the first group of the morning, Foushee was 2 down with four to play. He got back all square before nearly driving the green at the 349-yard No. 8, then chipped in for eagle and a one-hole lead with one to play.
“(UO assistant Van Williams) was telling me, ‘Let’s do this. Just take it one shot at a time, and keep it going, see what happens,’” Foushee said. “(The LSU player) kind of flubbed a chip at No. 6, so that kind of gave me a little light. I made a good drive at seven, which is huge for me, because I hadn’t hit that fairway all week. And then it just went on from there.
“The chip-in was a blessing. Right when I hit it, I knew it was going to be close. But I didn’t know it was going to go in.”
At No. 9, Foushee needed a two-putt par to clinch his match. Instead he drained another birdie putt to win 2 up.
“This is awesome,” Foushee said. “I’m a senior; I don’t want to go out right now. I’d rather go out on top.”
Raza birdied the par-3 third hole — Oregon’s 12th of the day after starting on the back nine — to get his match square, then went 1 up at No. 5. He clinched his match with a birdie at No. 8 to win, 2 and 1.
Wise got to all square at No. 16, before winning the first two holes after the turn. His birdie at No. 7 gave him a victory, 3 and 2, and left Lim standing at the tee box following his tee shot at No. 1, his 19th hole.