PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Georgia Southwestern State University's Simon Estrada sank a birdie put on the 18th hole to square the match with the University of Indianapolis and force a tiebreaker which Georgia Southwestern won to send the Hurricanes into the final match of the NCAA Division II Men's Golf National Championship on Friday. GSW defeated Texas A&M Commerce in the quarterfinals earlier in the day.
The Hurricanes will face Arkansas Tech University in the national championship match. The match will begin at 9 a.m. with the 'medal match' format where each match is scored by the cumulative number of strokes won by rather than the number of holes won. Up 3 means that the player is up by 3 strokes, not 3 holes. The player up by the most strokes after 18 holes wins the match. The first team with three match wins will be the 2021 National Champions.
GSW opened the day beating Texas A&M Commerce 3-2. Saksit Jairak won his match by 11 strokes while Estrada won by two and Jaxson Daskalos also won by two. That match turned again on Estrada, the freshman from Armenia, Colombia, who entered the final two holes tied with TAMC's Burch. Estrada got pars on both the eighth and ninth (the match started on hole #10) while Burch bogeyed both, leading to the two-shot victory.
The win in the quarterfinal was the first time a PBC men's golf team had won in NCAA match play since the national championship adopted the format in 2012.
After a quick turnaround the Hurricanes, seeded fourth, met top-seeded Indianapolis, who was the leader after 54 holes of stroke play from Monday to Wednesday. Jairak again picked up a point for the Hurricanes with a two-stroke win, followed by a massive nine-stroke win by Chase McLain.
McLain, a junior from Leesburg, Ga., was one up on UIndy's Ian Carroll, but then played the next five holes at +1 while Carroll dropped at least one shot on each for a +7. McLain's lead would be trimmed to four after the 14th hole, but he picked up two more shots on 15 following a birdie, two more on 17 and another on 18 to win by nine. Each one of those strokes would prove crucial in the tiebreaker.
The Greyhounds won the match at the third spot, leaving Estrada and Daskalos on the course. Daskalos trailed by five coming down the stretch, giving a presumptive point to UIndy, but Estrada was tied with Oliver Mast as both players teed up on 16.
Estrada picked up a par on the 16th while Mast double-bogeyed, giving the Hurricanes a two-stroke advantage. But Estrada faltered on the par-3 17th with a quadruple-bogey seven while Mast had a bogey four, picking up three strokes and taking the lead heading into the par-5 18th.
Estrada, showing tremendous composure for a freshman, calmly birdied the hole while Mast could manage only par, forcing a tie in the fourth match (see the putt here). Daskalos lost by five, putting the score at 2-2-1.
The first step of the NCAA tiebreaker policy is to add up the cumulative total strokes of all players with the low score advancing. However, both teams turned in 393 total strokes, every stroke over 18 holes mattered in the final reckoning, leaving the two teams still tied. The second tiebreaker looked at the result of the first match, and GSW with Jairak's two-stroke win gained the advantage and moved on to the championship round.
Georgia Southwestern will take on Arkansas Tech starting at 9 a.m. The match will be held, as all NCAA golf has this week, at the PGA National Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Live scoring for the match can be found here.
Recap provided by the Peach Belt Conference