Trojans Stay Hot, Advance To NCAA Championships Match Play

May 28, 2009

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A career performance from senior Tom Glissmeyer highlighted a superb effort across the board as the No. 3 USC men's golf team completed an amazing comeback Thursday (May 28) to advance to the final eight-team match play portion of the 2009 NCAA Championships at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Seemingly out of contention midway through the tournament Wednesday, USC rallied following a second-round rain delay to climb back into the hunt for a top 8 finish - necessary to qualify for the match play action.

The hot play continued Thursday as the Trojans posted a final-round best 5-under 279 to finish 13-over 865 (305-281-279), tied for third place with Washington and Arkansas. Oklahoma State finished first at 3-under 849 while Arizona State was second at 10-over 862. Behind USC, Washington and Arkansas was Michigan (868) in sixth and Texas A&M (869) and Georgia (869) tied for seventh.

The Trojans earned the No. 3 seed in the match play draw over Arkansas and Washington by winning a tiebreaker that counts all five players per round, as opposed to the normal five-count-four scoring system used for the tournament. USC will face No. 6 seed Michigan, the lowest ranked team remaining among the top eight teams.

USC began its third-round action on the 10th tee, which turned out to be a blessing. Clearly the easier half of the very tough Inverness course, the starting back 9 was a boon to all five Trojans. In 45 combined holes, USC carded 15 birdies and one eagle against only four bogeys and one double bogey.

Asked what he was thinking during Troy's torrid opening stretch, third-year head coach Chris Zambri said: 'I kept thinking that we had to keep it going, that we needed more and more (low scores). The front 9 is so tough here. All I was thinking is that I hope we keep it together and don't drop many strokes because they will be pretty important come an hour and a half from now. And they were.

'But we did all this to get to match play and now we have to try to win the tournament. We can't rest on our laurels. We haven't accomplished what we've set out to yet.'

Glissmeyer finished tied for third at 3-under 210 (74-70-66), blazing through the final round at 5-under to tie his USC career low for a round. After closing his final eight holes Wednesday with five birdies, he opened Thursday with six birdies on his first 12 holes and had a flawless day before a bogey on his final hole.

'This week has been incredible for Tom,' Zambri said. 'He was 7-over par on the 11th tee of the second round. He makes five birdies going in yesterday and plays almost a perfect round today. He's a super talented guy, a great competitor and works really hard. He deserves this success.'

Sophomore Matt Giles tied for 33rd at 5-over 218 (74-70-74) while fellow sophomore Tim Sluiter tied for 39th at 6-over 219 (79-70-70). Though Giles wasn't at his peak on Thursday, he contributed to a strong start with a 1-under front 9 that helped build USC's momentum. Sluiter, meanwhile, was under par for the second straight day. A birdie on 11 and an eagle on 13 was part of Troy's early success and he birdied 8 coming home to card a 70.

Senior Ryan Linton was among the most unlikely heroes playing this week. A reserve for most of the second half this season, his playing days as a Trojan were seemingly done as USC entered the postseason. But a season-ending injury to junior Jamie Lovemark propelled Linton into the starting lineup for the NCAA Championships and the senior has responded to the challenge.

Off to a rocky start with a first-round 81, Linton came back with a par 71 and a 2-under 69 to finish tied for 61st at 8-over 221. He began the final round Thursday with four consecutive birdies and finished the front 9 at 3-under. A combined 9-over on holes 1-9 in the first two rounds, he went 1-over today to tie his career low round at USC.

'Ryan stepped up huge,' Zambri said 'He was a sixth man and pretty much in the mindset that his season and career were over. And to go from that and shooting 81 in the first round and starting the second round with two bogeys to playing the next 34 holes at 4-under par on one of toughest courses we'll ever play was an amazing performance.'

Freshman Steve Lim rounded out USC's play tied for 87th at 11-over 224 (78-72-74). Lim was the hero of the NCAA West Regional when his final-round 66 helped USC qualify by one stroke for this current stage. Though he started with a shaky first round he has played solidly over the final two rounds.

All of the individual finishes below Glissmeyer are subject to change because the second wave of teams was unable to complete play today. While times for the match play are not set yet, action will not start until after the third round is completed Friday.

In addition to USC vs. Michigan, No. 1 Oklahoma State will face No. 2 Georgia in a 1-seed vs. 8-seed matchup, No. 13 Arizona State will face No. 14 Texas A&M in a 2-seed vs. 3-seed match up and No. 10 Arkansas and No. 4 Washington will battle in the 4-seed vs. 5-seed match up.

Two rounds of match play are scheduled for Friday (May 29) with the final round set for Saturday (May 30).

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