Arizona State men’s golf misses national title

Arizona State men’s golf coach Matt Thurmond isn’t often at a loss for words, but he paused for a moment to collect his thoughts as he met the media moments after his team finished playing the NCAA Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.

Winning a national championship isn’t easy and his Sun Devils came so close, but settled for a second-place finish as Texas prevailed 3-2 in the match-game final on Wednesday after- midday. Still, it marked ASU’s best performance in the sport since a title last won in 1996.

“What are my emotions? So many,” he said. “I think the coolest thing is how much they love each other. You can just tell it, look at them. They care about each other and you can see how much they wanted to win one over. for the other, how well they played. , they were composed until the end. So I’m proud. Obviously, it’s a painful defeat. You don’t very often have the chance to win the championship national and we had a chance at the very end.”

Thurmond didn’t take much consolation in advancing to the title game, although in doing so the Sun Devils had to overtake the two teams that played for the biggest honor last year – Oklahoma and Pepperdine, which the ASU won in match play. quarter-final and semi-final Tuesday on the 7,289-yard, par-70 Raptor course.

The players also didn’t find much consolation in second place. Four of the team’s top seven players will be back and hope to make a run next season. Among those is rookie Preston Summerhays, who said the loss will serve as motivation.

“I’ll tell you, it’s definitely going to piss us off,” said Summerhays, who won both of her games on Tuesday to propel ASU to the Finals. “We’re not happy and we’re going to have a good team next year. We’re going to be back here at Grayhawk. We’ve had some great finishes here, we haven’t done that, we have something to work on. … We will try as much as possible to get back to the same position next year.”

Fifth-year senior Mason Andersen, a Hamilton High School local, ended his career as spectacularly as he could have hoped for short of winning the tag team title. He has won all three of his match play matches.

Other starters are Cameron Sisk, the hero of ASU’s win over Oklahoma on Tuesday morning, and James Leow, who split time in that tournament with up-and-coming rookie Josele Ballester.

“It’s tough, it’s my last tournament for ASU, so it sucks,” Andersen said. “I had faith in my boys. I wouldn’t take anyone else into my team, but it just didn’t go our way today. But I’m still proud. It’s a good race, but it’s hard to get close to it because it’s a lot of work. I feel like I’ve been at this class for a month now. It’s a marathon.”

This was Texas’ fourth championship, the previous three having been held in 1971, 1972 and 2012. It was his fourth NCAA championship game appearance for the Longhorns since the NCAA adopted the format current match-play in 2009.

The Longhorns didn’t necessarily head into the tournament with a head of steam, having settled for a fourth-place finish in the Norman, Oklahoma Regional won by the host Sooners. Texas was ranked seventh nationally before the tournament, but fourth after the four rounds of stroke play.

The Longhorns advanced to the championship with match play wins over fifth seed Oklahoma State and top seed Vanderbilt.

ASU placed fourth nationally and had won the Stockton, Calif., area by 10 strokes, but struggled in the second round and was only the seventh seed after the 72-hole game in par strokes. But the Sun Devils’ performance in Tuesday’s match play was impressive.

Still, it was Texas who had the upper hand for much of the afternoon, eventually taking the win at par 4 #18 when Sisk was unable to get the hole he needed. to even the score against Texas junior Travis Vick.

Thurmond hopes his team’s performance won’t be forgotten, although he concedes the team that wins is remembered while the team that finishes second usually carries on with little fanfare, making the tag of finalist more difficult to digest.

“When you win something like that, it’s forever part of history,” he said. “You have reunions and they celebrate you in 25 years at a football game and you all come to town and share the rest together. When you’re runners-up you get none of that and this team deserves it. ”

ASU will look for a chance at redemption next season when the event returns to Grayhawk for a third consecutive season. Thurmond has just completed his sixth season in charge of the program, admits that to win a team must not only be good. It also takes a bit of luck.

“We were very close to winning a national championship,” he said. “It’s hard to come back here so hopefully we’re back in this situation and have a chance to do something. It’s a barely rolling ball in the grass, it’s a Putt hanging from the lip, it’s really so close. Texas is a great team, they played great. Hopefully we can come back here and see what happens.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602 444-4783. Follow her on Twitter @MGardnerSports.

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