Heartbreaking Ending To Husky Golf Season
June 4, 2010
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. -- The Husky men's golf season came to an abrupt end on Friday when Oregon outdueled them 3-2 in the quarterfinals of match play at the NCAA Championship being held at The Honors Course outside of Chattanooga, Tenn.
The seesaw battle was tied at two matches apiece and came down to the final pairing of Ben Hogan Award winner Nick Taylor and Eugene Wong -- who not only shared 2010 Co-Pac-10 Player of the Year honors but grew up together playing junior golf in British Columbia. Wong held a one stroke lead entering the final hole and both golfers carded a par on 18 to clinch the match for the Ducks.
Wong birdied nine and won on No. 10 to take the lead he that he would never relinquish.
'We certainly didn't give it to them,' said Husky coach Matt Thurmond. 'It was a great match and Nick played really well, it's just that Eugene never made a mistake. It came down to that match and Eugene was awesome. It was just one shot -- and they made one more shot than we did.'
The match up between Washington, who entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed, and Oregon, who came in as the top-ranked team, was definitely one for the ages. At the turn, Oregon held a 2-1-2 advantage, but Washington was able to whittle their lead down by 15 and take the lead. Ultimately though, Oregon proved resilient and held on to end the Huskies season.
'It's the best team we have ever had and today really, really sucks,' said Thurmond. 'But, it doesn't take away anything that's already been done, which is some pretty cool historic stuff. We didn't expect to be done today, so we're disappointed.'
The Huskies were able to get wins by national freshman of the year Chris Williams and senior Darren Wallace. Williams made the turn and was down three strokes, but was able to hit a couple birdies and his opponent Daniel Miernicki was unable to convert two par putts. Ultimately, Williams won 2 and 1.
Wallace jumped out of the gate fast and held as much as a four hole lead. He had a stretch before the turn where his opponent Isaiah Telles made a run, but he weathered the storm and settle for a 2 and 1 win.
Freshman Charlie Hughes trailed by two strokes after No. 13, but made back-to-back birdies and then had a par to his opponent Jack Dukenminier's bogey to take a 1-up advantage heading to 17. Dukenminier eagled 17 to even the match and then clinched it when Hughes then missed a seven foot par putt on 18.
Senior Richard Lee also battled back but fell short of completing his comeback. He was down three strokes after six holes and was able to get all square by 11. His opponent Andrew Vijarro nailed back-to-back birdie putts on No. 15 and 16 and was able to close out with a 2 and 1 win.
The loss means that the Husky careers are over for Taylor, Lee, Wallace and Chris Killmer, who did not compete in Tennessee. The group were a part of the first-ever back-to-back Pac-10 Championships squads and first-ever team win at the NCAA Regional. An emotional Thurmond struggled to sum up what this group meant to his program.
'Special, special seniors,' he said. 'If anyone ever deserved to win a national championship it would be them and this team, but that's not always how it works. There are probably other teams that deserve to win too but it just didn't work out for us.'
MATCH PLAY RESULTSOregon wins 3-2
1. Nick Taylor (UW) vs. Eugene Wong (ORE): Wong wins 1 up
2. Chris Williams (UW) vs. Daniel Miernicki (ORE): Williams wins 2 and 1
3. Richard Lee (UW) vs. Andrew Vijarro (ORE): Vijarro wins 2 and 1
4. Darren Wallace (UW) vs. Isaiah Telles (ORE): Wallace wins 2 and 1
5. Charlie Hughes (UW) vs. Jack Dukeminier (ORE): Dukenminier wins 1 up