FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Vanderbilt mounted a furious late-round comeback on Tuesday afternoon in the semifinals of the NCAA Championships, but Stanford was too much for the Commodores to overcome, as the Cardinal came away with a 3-2-0 victory to advance to the finals on Wednesday at the Blessings Club.
After a remarkable morning when the Commodores dramatically knocked off Texas A&M in the quarterfinals, Vanderbilt had a short turnaround and fell behind early to the Cardinal in their semifinal match. Patrick Martin, who was first off for Vanderbilt in the afternoon, dropped his match 3&2, but John Augenstein responded by claiming his match, 2-up. The other matches, around the turn, were all in Stanford’s favor.
Reid Davenport eventually lost his match, 4&3, but Will Gordon turned his match around and took the lead, and Harrison Ott, who was four down after 13, extended his match all the way to 18. Down one, Ott watched Stanford’s Daulet Tuleubayev get the Cardinal’s deciding point by knocking down a 20-foot birdie putt to win the match 2-up.
“Obviously this morning, there was a lot of emotion, with Patrick and John getting their points early and Will making some incredible putts on his 18th and 19th holes to get the win,” said Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh. “We really wanted to make sure we enjoyed that win, but it literally was less than an hour for us in between matches so we didn’t have a lot of time to settle down. But I thought we were fine. Everyone came out and made nice tee shots in the afternoon and for whatever reason, we never really had any momentum. We may have had some a little bit on the back nine, but couldn’t really overcome it.”
The loss ended the storied Commodore careers of seniors Gordon and Martin, who combined to win 16 team championships, five individual titles, three NCAA match play appearances, six GCAA All-American honors, seven All-SEC honors, three Palmer Cup selections, two GCAA All-America Scholar honors, and the same career stroke average – 138 events and 9,797 strokes.
Limbaugh will get the chance to coach the duo, along with John Augenstein, in the Palmer Cup in a few weeks.
“I’m really proud of how Will battled,” said Limbaugh. “And John, again, his ability to find a way to get a point in his match is outstanding. And obviously Harrison, a young guy out there who was four down through 13, just hanging and hanging. Making a putt. Battling. Doing some good things. Losing is tough. And endings are tough. And this ending is as hard as any we’ve had. When you get to coach special people that do things the right way, they certainly aren’t failures, I can tell you that. Those guys are winners and they made Vanderbilt Golf a winner.
“I am really thankful for all of the support we had this week. It was special. I had a great feeling about the week coming here and never didn’t have a good feeling, even when we were down. I just kept thinking, ‘We’re going to be fine. We’re going to be fine.’ And ultimately, your hat just goes off to Stanford. They were just a little better than us this afternoon.”
Stanford 3, Vanderbilt 2
Isaiah Salinda defeated Patrick Martin, 3&2
John Augenstein defeated Henry Shimp, 2-up
Brandon Wu defeated Reid Davenport, 4&3
Daulet Tuleubayev defeated Harrison Ott, 2-up
Will Gordon defeated David Snyder, 1-up