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Scarlet Sunrise: NCAA Championship run ends in semifinals for Ohio State men's golf

IMG_7408by:Andy Backstrom05/29/24

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NCAA Championship run ends in semifinals for Ohio State men’s golf

Ohio State men’s golf upset 2-seed and No. 2 Vanderbilt in Carlsbad, California, during the NCAA Championship quarterfinals Tuesday. The 3-1-1 Buckeyes match victory at Omni La Costa even saw redshirt freshman Tyler Sabo sink a hole-in-one while holding his own against the No. 15 amateur in the world, William Moll.

Led by head coach Jay Moseley, Ohio State and its four accomplished seniors/fifth years reached the semifinals. And although the Buckeyes bowed out to 6-seed and No. 1 Auburn, 3-2, they still tied for third at the NCAA Championship, the program’s best finish since it won the whole thing in 1979.

In other words, after a rocky regular season, Ohio State made the event’s match play for the first time since 2011 and, ultimately, turned in its best NCAA Championship showing in 45 years.

“It was quite an unusual season in a lot of ways,” Moseley said, via Ohio State Athletics. “There were points in the spring where we had some adversity that we didn’t handle so well and just didn’t play the way we expect and the standards that we have for ourselves and the team.

“I knew it would come together at some point, but you just never know when. We came in here with some really good momentum, and we knew we were playing well. It was not a surprise to us at all to see the way we managed through stroke play. We felt great about how the golf course set up for us. We’ve got guys that can hit it in the short grass and hit greens. We just needed a couple more putts to drop.”

The highlight of the quarterfinal win over Vanderbilt was Sabo’s ace. Sabo — who came into the day ranked 2,209th among amateurs — was a thorn in the highly-ranked Moll’s side. So much so that Sabo actually won holes 15 and 18 to tie the match, which would have gone to extra holes had Adam Wallin not locked up the quarterfinal victory in comeback fashion.

Following a strong start against Vanderbilt’s Gordon Sargent, Wallin slipped a bit on the back nine, and Sargent led 2-up with two holes to play after winning three straight holes. Wallin won holes 17 and 18, forcing extra holes. Then, on the 19th hole — the par-3 16th — Wallin got out of the bunker for par, while Sargent couldn’t, and the Buckeyes advanced to the semis.

Wallin was at the center of the drama against Auburn, too.

The score was even at 2-2 after the teams split the first four matches. Ohio State’s Maxwell Moldovan defeated Auburn’s Carson Bacha, 1-up. Ohio State’s Sabo continued his head-turning day with an upset of Auburn’s Josiah Gilbert, 1-up. But Auburn’s Brendan Valdes took down Ohio State’s Jackson Chandler, 1-up. And Auburn’s J.M. Butler beat Ohio State’s Neal Shipley, 2&1.

The spotlight once again shined on Wallin, who, the day prior, became the Buckeyes’ first top-10 finisher in stroke play since 1995.

And, once again, Wallin faced a 2-down deficit with two holes to go — against Auburn’s Jackson Koivun, this year’s Fred Haskins Award winner, an award given annually to the top male U.S. collegiate golfer.

Back-to-back birdies from Wallin forced extra holes. Back-and-forth Wallin and Koivun went through the first two playoff holes.

The third, however, was the difference maker. Playing the par-5 18th, Koivun landed an approach shot about five feet away from the hole. That set him up for a semifinal-winning birdie putt after Wallin’s birdie attempt from the back of the green missed right.

Wallin posted the lowest scoring average of his career this season at 71.73. But Shipley — who earned low amateur honors at this year’s Master’s — led the team in scoring average this season, thanks to his mark of 71.35. Meanwhile, Moldovan ended his Buckeyes stay with the lowest career scoring average in program history at 71.25. Moldovan, who played in last year’s U.S. Open, finished with four career wins and 19 top-10 finishes.

Don’t forget about Chandler, who has 14 career top-20 finishes to his name and was runner-up at this year’s Robert Kepler Intercollegiate.

That group of outgoing Buckeyes players is going out with a memorable NCAA Championship run in Carlsbad, California.

How they got here: Mapping out career path of each Buckeyes RB so far

As Lettermen Row “Running Backs” Week gets going, we’re taking a more in-depth look at how each of the Buckeyes’ top-five backs reached this point of their careers.

TreVeyon Henderson has missed significant time with injuries the last two seasons but had a strong finish to 2023 and remains one of the most dynamic players in the Big Ten. Quinshon Judkins is a former All-SEC back who is a workhorse and touchdown magnet. Like Henderson, Judkins prides himself on his versatility.

Those two headline an intimidating Ohio State tandem. But what about the rest of the group?

Go here to find out their beginnings, too.

RELATED

Buckeyes open as massive favorite over Akron in season opener

The Buckeyes’ season opener is 94 days away, and Ohio State is a 50.5-point favorite over Akron, according to DraftKings.

Unlike last season when the Buckeyes began the year with a road game at Indiana and then played another game on the road two weeks later at Notre Dame — at the time a top-10 showdown — Ohio State kicks off the 2024 campaign with three straight home contests. And none of those outings are against power conference competition.

For more details on the Ohio State-Akron spread, head on over here.

Counting Down

Buckeyes vs. Akron: 94 days
Buckeyes vs. Michigan: 185 days

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