Men's Golf finishes NCAA Championships tied for fifth
The Arizona State men’s golf finished the season in a tie for fifth place, May 31, as they dropped a closely contested match-play duel with the top-ranked Cal Bears, 3-2, at the Capital City Club’s par-70, 7,319-yard Crabapple Course in Milton, Ga.
The eighth-seeded Sun Devils faced the No. 1 seed and the top-ranked team in the country in California and battled to the end for the final point in match play.
“These guys never give up,” said head coach Tim Mickelson of his young team. “We knew that if we got to match play that there was going to be a chance because these guys are grinders and fighters.”
And fight they did. With some golf writers and media members calling a certain California victory only a few holes deep, Arizona State came back swinging with junior Spencer Lawson defeating Cal’s Michael Kim, the top-ranked golfer in the nation according to Golfweek and sophomore Austin Quick battling Golden Bear Michael Weaver into 19 holes to secure the victory.
All tied up at 2-2 with wins by California’s Joel Stalter over Max Rottluff and NCAA Champion Max Homa over Trey Kaahanui, the match-play battle came down to Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jon Rahm and Cal’s Brandon Hagy. After being down by two strokes after 15 holes, Rahm narrowed the gap and pulled within a stroke coming down the stretch. However, on 18 Hagy pulled away and clinched the victory for Cal.
In his second season at Arizona State, Mickelson, along with assistant coach Joe Prince, has taken a team that missed qualifying for the NCAA Regionals a season ago and turned it into a team that finished top-five in the nation. The incredible feat was not lost on California’s coach Steve Desimone.
“Tim and his staff have done a phenomenal job,” said Desimone. “You guys have been around this for a while, you know that any team that makes the final eight here is good enough to win, good enough to beat any team and good enough to win the championship…I told the guys that ASU is here, you’ve seen in the spring how they have become one of the best teams in the country.”
As for next season, the underclassmen-laden team bodes well for the future success off the Sun Devil men’s golf team. With the whirlwind postseason the team has experienced comes learning lessons and Mickelson has a message he wants to impart on his young team.
“I’m going to tell them that I’m damn proud of them and that it was a great learning experience. I think that we are by far the youngest team that was here and got to match play and we’re going to use that as a learning experience for next year and hopefully get back.”
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP (HOSTED BY GEORGIA TECH)
MILTON, GA - CAPITAL CITY CLUB, CRABAPPLE COURSE (PAR-70, 7,319 YARDS)
NCAA MATCH PLAY QUARTERFINAL
Cal d. Arizona State, 3-2
Austin Quick (Arizona State) d. Michael Weaver (Cal), 19 holes
Joël Stalter (Cal) d. Max Rottluff (Arizona State), 1 up
Max Homa (Cal) d. Ka'ahanui (Arizona State), 3 & 2
Spencer Lawson (Arizona State) d.Michael Kim (Cal), 1 up
Brandon Hagy (Cal) d. Jon Rahm (Arizona State) 2 up