Arizona State Men’s Golf Compete for National Title Against Texas
SCOTTSDALE — Arizona State’s David Puig had a thought as the Sun Devils prepared to play for a national title in men’s golf.
The final no se juegan, se ganan.
“We’re excited, and there’s this phrase in Spanish where we say ‘You don’t play finals, you win finals’,” the Spaniard said of the popular phrase coined by Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano. “And that’s what we’re really going to try to do, win the final.”
ASU will earn its third national title if it can defeat Texas on Wednesday at Grayhawk Golf Club. Its last title was in 1996. Although this program was a significant success, a championship has eluded some of its best players, including Jon Rahm.
The Longhorns have won three national titles.
ASU advanced by beating the nation’s top-ranked team, Oklahoma, and defending champion Pepperdine.
Grayhawk proved to be a tough par-70 course that didn’t allow a single team to shoot under par in the first round of the tournament.
“Well, I’ll just say it’s extremely tough out there,” ASU coach Matt Thurmond said after that first round, “It’s just an absolute grind. There’s nothing easy…. No matter what you do, you fight for peers.
Despite playing host, the Sun Devils didn’t get off to an easy start and struggled at times on Friday and Saturday. But they gave their best in Sunday’s stroke play, shooting a total of 3 under to move up to sixth place.
Cameron Sisk (2 under) and David Puig (2 under) delivered for ASU, but rookie Preston Summerhays did too, joining the two veterans and also recording a 68.
The Sun Devils had just one day of stroke play left, and that would decide whether they would advance to match play on Tuesday, or be eliminated. To stay in contention, ASU had to be among the top eight teams in the rankings, and that’s exactly what they did.
Despite recording a worse round than Sunday’s, it was enough to become the tournament’s seventh seed. That was partly thanks to the great effort of Sisk, who finished tied for fifth in the individual standings.
The best was yet to come.
After the early rounds, ASU was paired with the Oklahoma Sooners, the highest-ranked team in the nation by Golfstat, and the team that eliminated the Sun Devils in the 2021 National Championship, also played at Grayhawk.
Match play started at 6:20 a.m. and it was an intense round. Each team recorded two of the three wins needed to qualify for the semi-finals. For ASU, fifth-year senior Mason Andersen defeated Patrick Welch. Meanwhile, Summerhays obliterated Haskins Award-winning Chris Gotterup by 7 holes differential, without even bowling the last five pins.
The Sooners added points to their win column as Drew Goodman and Logan McAllister beat the two Spaniards, Puig and Josele Ballester.
Then came the time for Sisk to play the hero.
In a back-and-forth, the senior surrendered his lead on the 16th hole, then regained it on the next, but lost it again on the 18th. This led to a playoff on the 10th hole, where he s is busy with business. after sinking a putt (which shook around the pin before going in) and seeing his rival, Stephen Campbell, miss his shot to give him the win.
“He was probably 25 or 30 yards behind me, and he landed a very, very good shot, from 7 or 8 feet.” Sisk said. “I think I had a good shot too. I was probably about 15 feet out, and it broke pretty good. I had a really good putt, and to see that, you know, made me roll up a bit and walk in, it was so awesome.
It was all hugs and celebrations after that putt, but there was little time left to savor the victory. About 10 minutes after their dramatic quarter-finals, the Sun Devils learned that defending champion Pepperdine had defeated No. 3 seed North Carolina and they would face them in the semi-finals.
At 12:45 p.m., the competition began with Andersen, who faced Dylan Menante.
The fifth-year player was ahead by one on 12 holes, but in the next four he fell to two holes.
However, Andersen was successful in the clutch and birdied 17 and 18 to force the second playoff of the day, again returning to 10. The Chandler native let out his emotions even before securing the tie, when he brought the ball closer to the pin. than his rival and repeatedly shouted: “Come in!”
Then, at 19, the graduate secured victory after his rival missed a 5-footer. He sank his putt, raising his arms when he knew he had delivered one of the most memorable returns in ASU golf history.
“I kept saying, ‘Hit, hit, hit,’ and it just kept happening,” Andersen said. “I mean, every shot I wanted to hit in the stretch ended up hitting, so that was really cool. In the playoff hole, he kind of threw a bone at me in that one, he missed his 5 footer.
The semis were all about momentum, and that’s something Andersen almost lost just before that 19th hole. When the two players came up to the tee box at 10, two players from the other semi-final (Texas and Vanderbilt) were still in progress, causing Andersen and Menante to wait 15 minutes.
“Boring was boring,” Andersen said. “I really wanted it to continue, because when you get into a rhythm like that, it’s awkward. But it gave me a chance to watch my boys on the big screen a bit there, so it wasn’t all bad.
However, Andersen wasn’t the only ASU golfer who was in danger of losing momentum. Although Summerhays had a 5-hole lead from 10, they were tied at 16.
The freshman didn’t let the nerves get the better of him and he was able to regain the lead at 17, securing victory on the final hole.
“A freshman in that situation … most would be completely shaken, and they would be finished, but for Preston to rally like he did,” Thurmon said. “I mean, it’s so hard to do when all the momentum is gone, and you hit shots like that at those times. Delighted for him, he beat two great players today.
“So proud (of Preston Summerhays),” Andersen said. “Preston is legit, and he has been since day one. You can always tell when a player is going to be great, and Preston is one of those guys.
With those two wins, ASU only needed one more to secure their spot in the Finals. It was all over when Puig won the 17th hole and ended his match with the 2-hole lead just before the last pin.
“It was the 14th fairway umpire,” Sisk said of who told him the game was over. “Yeah, that was crazy, you know, those guys made it easy for me today. Those first few games to close out, that was awesome.