Battle to the Final Hole

Commodores come up just short in SEC MatchPlay championship

VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. — Tennessee edged Vanderbilt on Tuesday at SEC Match Play presented by Jerry Pate, winning a 3-2 contest that came down to the final hole.

With the overall score tied 2-2 at the Old Overton Club, Reid Davenport trailed Bryce Lewis by four with four to play. Vandy’s fifth-year senior wouldn’t go down without a fight and won the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to stay alive before both players made par on 18.

That gave Lewis, and the Volunteers, the 3-2 victory.

“Just super proud of how we competed,” Vandy head coach Scott Limbaugh said. “What Reid Davenport just did to hang in there and give us a chance was pretty cool stuff and the kind of stuff you expect from a guy like Reid. He made it hard on them.

“Our hat’s off to them and their program. They just beat us today.”

Vanderbilt had taken a 1-0 lead thanks to Gordon Sargent’s 6-and-5 win over Caleb Surratt. The Volunteers, however, took some control of the match from there.

John Hall defeated Cole Sherwood 3-and-2 to give Tennessee its first win. Matthew Riedel’s 4-and-2 win over Cade Russell gave the Commodores the lead back, but Lance Simpson held on for a 2-up win over William Moll putting all the pressure on Davenport.

“Gordon played awesome golf today,” Limbaugh said. “Matthew just does what he does. He was steady, just kept knocking in putts and hanging in there and eventually took control of his match. They made some shots – (Simpson) birdied his last three to beat William.

“There’s always lessons to learn in these matches. If we handle it the right way it’s good for us because success and all of this sometimes can make you disregard having to do the little things the right way. I think we kind of didn’t do all the little stuff to our standards all week long. We got to be above that. We’ve just got to stay hungry to improve. I think that’s really important for us, just seeing where we can improve and owning it.”

Vanderbilt doesn’t have much time to rest as it heads to Fort Worth, Texas, to take part in the two-day Ben Hogan Collegiate Invitational starting Monday at the Colonial Country Club. The defeat Tuesday for the Commodores was just their second regular-season setback in their last seven events.

“We certainly aren’t happen about the result and we’ve got a quick turnaround to head to one of the best regular-season events of the year,” Limbaugh said. “We had a great contingency of black and gold out there today and all week and we really, really appreciate that.”