A late back nine rally wasn’t enough for the Texas men’s golf team to overtake Illinois in Friday’s quarterfinal match at the NCAA Championship. The No. 5-seed Fighting Illini won a 3-2 decision over the fourth-seeded Longhorns to end Texas’ bid for a second-straight NCAA Championship.
The Longhorns finished fifth overall following a third-place showing in the 54-hole stroke play portion. Since 2009, the top-eight teams in stroke play have advanced to the match-play championship format to determine the eventual NCAA Champion.
Texas was down 4-1 near the halfway point of the match before junior Toni Hakula and sophomore Kramer Hickok led the comeback effort and took control of their individual matches. With two matches completed and the teams tied 1-1, Hakula took the lead over Illinois' Charlie Danielson on the 15th hole, but Danielson won both 16 and 17 to secure the win.
Senior Julio Vegas took Illinois’ Thomas Detry to a full 18 holes, but Detry won the first match of the quarterfinal showdown as Vegas was unable to come up with a win on the final hole to push the twosome into a sudden-death playoff.
Almost immediately after Vegas’ match concluded, freshman Brandon Stone won a 2&1 match against Thomas Pieters, the 2012 NCAA Championship stroke-play medalist. Stone took a lead on the second hole and never let up in his NCAA Championship match play debut.
In the fourth match, Hickok battled back from 3 down and defeated Brian Campbell, 2&1. Senior Cody Gribble fell 3&2 to Alex Burge in the fifth match.