When it comes to rankings and projections, golf isn’t like other sports. It’s more difficult to predict winners and losers, even trends, because each course is different and the margin for error is so small.
Basketball and baseball have long seasons and the post season is based on series to give large sample sizes and reward the best teams.
Football can be a crap shoot game to game, but in general there is an understanding of which teams have the best players for the best matchups.
The Commodores were the highest ranked team in the SEC, and they boasted a combo of three best players on any given team. Yet, they were bounced in the Quarterfinals (Gonna be honest, after both the Women’s and Men’s team lost in the quarters, I feared I could have jinxed them).
In stroke play, Vanderbilt finished second behind, Auburn, the eventual champions and then lost to No. 7 seed Arkansas (the SEC Runner Up) in the first round of match play.
Let’s take a closer look at the upset. The Razorbacks won 3&2. Patrick Martin won his match convincingly and so did John Augenstein. That’s not surprising considering they both are top 25 players in the NCAA. Hell, Augenstein played in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head the weekend before.
Harrison Ott and Reed Davenport both lost on the 19th hole- no, not the bar after the round (although, I wouldn’t blame them if they lost there, too). Both their matches went to an extra hole.
Will Gordon, the best player for the Commodores throughout the week lost 5&4. Yikes. This is a stunning loss. He finished third as an individual shooting a -6, 204. He played the par-3’s at Even the whole week. The par-4’s he played at -1. He led the field in par-5 scoring at -5. He made 12 birdies and one eagle on the week playing him in the top 6 of all competitors in both categories.
His matchplay opponent, Luis Garza shot a +7, 217. That’s a 13 stroke difference. Yet, matchplay is a different beast. Garza caught a heater over six holes and put Gordo in the dust. In their match, Gordo kept it at all square for five of the first seven holes. Then on the eighth, Garza birdied winning the hole. Gordo continued to par hole after hole while Garza birdie 10, 11, 12, and 13 to go up five holes. Gordo had to win the 14th, a par 3, to (and each hole after) to continue the match. Both he and Garza parred ending the match.
It’s easy to see a score like 5&4 from one of your best golfers and wonder if he got a bad case of the hosel rockets, but it turns out Garza was hotter than a match head.
Tonight the Commodores will find out where they are going for the NCAA Regionals. It could be Pullman, WA; Standford, CA, Myrtle Beach, SC; Louisville, KY; Athens, GA; or Austin, TX. The selection show will made on Golf Channel at 9:00 PM EST.