SUGAR GROVE, Ill. — In its first ever NCAA men’s golf match play national championship appearance, Oklahoma won its second national championship in program history with a 3-1-1 victory over defending champion Oregon at Rich Harvest Farms.
“I had a good feeling (this) week. My wife and I had talked about this before we went to regionals that we aren’t the best putting team and at regionals, you got to be able to do somethings at the right time to advance through,” Sooners coach Ryan Hybl said. “I told her I was hoping that this group was going to get a chance to shine. If they had an opportunity this week, they were going to do something crazy good.
“This has been our best individual year. We had five individual winners, which not a lot of teams can say. The firepower was there.”
Oklahoma’s championship was its first since 1989 at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmonds, Oklahoma, a championship co-hosted with rival Oklahoma State. The Sooners lost in the quarterfinal round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship.
Blaine Hale put the first point on the board, downing Oregon’s Norman Xiong 4&3 as he sank a birdie putt on the 15th green. Xiong had the early momentum in the match, winning the first hole and the early one-up advantage.
It wasn’t until the sixth that Hale clinched his first lead and never acquiesced, going three-up through 10.
In the second group, Max McGreevy followed in his fellow Sooners’ footsteps, winning 3&2 against Edwin Yi. After halving the first hole, McGreevy claimed the first and last advantage on No. 2 as the senior stood resolute over the Ducks’ sophomore.
However, after falling three-down on the fifth hole, Yi won the sixth and seventh to climb back within one. McGreevy responded and went four-up after 13 and kept his position until the match ended on the 16th.
— Oklahoma Golf (@OU_MGolf) June 1, 2017
Though the Sooners had the edge, Oregon did not go down without a fight. In the third match of the final, Wyndham Clark won the first hole and led during the front nine before Rylee Reinertson squared the match on the 11th.
With Clark regaining the lead on the 12th hole, Reinertson evened the match again on the 14th, lighting the fireworks over the last four holes as the duos split the next three holes to set up a winner take all 18th hole. Clark clinched the Ducks lone point, carding an eagle to end the match.
Though Grant Hirschman and Ryan Gronlund also teed off on the 18th all square with Hirschman battling back from a two-hole deficit with three holes left to play, the national champion was crowned during the final pairing between Oklahoma’s Brad Dalke and Oregon’s Sulman Raza.
Dalke quickly asserted himself as the match leader, going two-up through two, and led the match one-up at the turn. However, Raza squared the match on No. 10 after hitting safely onto the green from the bunker to par the hole. Halving the 11th hole, Dalke reclaimed the lead on the 12th with a birdie putt to win the hole. The Sooner won the 14th and 15th to go three-up to set up a make or break hole for Raza on the 16th.
Despite falling short of the green on the 205-yard par 3, the Ducks redshirt senior and Eugene native chipped back onto the green from the surrounding fescue and saved par to extend the match after Dalke’s bogey.
Raza’s run would end on the 17th however as the tandem halved the hole to clinch Oklahoma’s second national championship.
Let’s hear it for the champs! pic.twitter.com/MUYdlBTUyd
— Oklahoma Golf (@OU_MGolf) May 31, 2017
During the post-match press conference, Hybl shared an anecdote from his alluded to a conversation with his wife about Dalke and the potential on the horizon.
“I make notes on my phone every once in a while, whenever I see good things. On Feb. 16 I (wrote), when we were out at The Trails (Golf Club), I said ‘Dalk (Dalke) looks the best I’ve ever seen, he could take us the distance,” said a tearful Hybl. “He did that this week. It was a great week.”
The match play final marked the end of two weeks of competition at Rich Harvest Farms, the home of the Northern Illinois, in which 16,425 were in attendance. While 4,275 fans came out for the rain-soaked women’s championship, 12,150 showed for the sun-splashed men’s championship, including a tournament-best 3,250 fans during Saturday’s second round.