NCAA men's golf championship: USC, Oregon make the cut

USC Athletics

Both USC and Oregon punched tickets to Monday's action during Sunday's third and final preliminary round at the NCAA men's golf championship. Only the top 15 teams advanced, so Arizona State (16th) was the first left out, while Stanford (20th) has also been eliminated.

The pressure ratchets up on Monday, as the field will be further whittled down from the top 15 teams to only the top eight. The tournament is also only 18 holes away from crowning its individual NCAA champion. USC still has a pair of players in contention there: Rico Hoey is tied for fourth overall at 8-under after shooting at spectacular 66 Sunday (the best in the entire field) and Justin Suh is tied for seventh, just one stroke behind Hoey and five back of Texas' Scottie Scheffler, the tournament leader. 

Even a pair of bogeys on the back nine couldn't slow Hoey's roll; he birdied the par-5, 525-yard 18th to finish with a 6-under 66 on the day. That's only four strokes back of Scheffler for the tournament lead. Suh, who finished the day at even par following a double bogey on the 17th -- a day after he triple bogeyed that same hole -- is only one shot behind his teammate.

Suh is equipped with experience to handle the raising stakes: He was the NCAA championship leader following 36 holes last year. Now, after 54, Suh and his teammate Hoey can gun full throttle for a title. Both Trojans have a legitimate chance at the individual trophy tomorrow, while USC is collectively only one shot behind team leader Vanderbilt. As the pressure cooker intensifies in Illinois, the Trojans are in line to have some real fun. 

Oregon has big-time tournament experience, and that shined through Sunday when the defending national champions needed a solid round to make the cut. The Ducks' quintet responded with consistency to get the job done. Ryan Gronlund set the pace, finishing an excellent Sunday at 2-under. Wyndham Clark, who has played a relatively error-free tournament, registered even-par to continue his crisp action. With Clark tied for 36th and Gronlund in 44th place, Oregon may not be in contention for an individual title, but the 13th-place Ducks are certainly still alive and kicking in the team race.

Arizona State fielded an exceptionally young team in 2017. Three of the Sun Devils' NCAA championship performers were freshmen. Considering this, ASU's showing -- 16th place, just one stroke off the cut -- was an impressive one. The Sun Devils delivered a gritty, consistent Sunday of play. Blake Wagoner's day may have been most impressive: He rebounded from a miserable 14-over showing on Saturday to log an even-par performance on Sunday. Alex Del Rey Gonzalez shot 2-under to lead the ASU into the offseason. The Sun Devils have plenty to build on entering 2018, especially with three years of eligibility still left for Chun An Yu (1-over on Sunday).

It was a disappointing tournament for Stanford and its star Maverick McNealy, who is the second-ranked amateur player in the world. As a team, the Cardinal missed the cut by eight strokes. Individually, McNealy was never able to find his consistent stride at Rich Harvest Farms. Though he shot one-under Saturday, a double bogey on the par-three fifth hole Sunday put McNealy in a hole that he did not recover from. The senior, considered the best Cardinal golfer since Tiger Woods, ended his Stanford career with a round of four-over, tied for 76th place. 

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