Manke Advances To Nationals; UW 8th At NCAA Regional
UW senior RJ Manke won a sudden-death playoff Wednesday at the NCAA Stockton Regional, earning a spot at the NCAA National Championships later this month in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Manke, the 2022 Pac-12 Men's Golfer of the Year, finished the third and final round at 8-under, having shot a 1-under 71 Wednesday. He and LSU's Drew Doyle were tied for fifth overall, but were the top two individuals not among the five teams that earned a berth at nationals.
Washington placed eighth as a team, needing to finish in the top-five to advance to the NCAA National Championships later this month in Scottsdale, Ariz. However, along with the top five teams, the top individual player (from teams other than the top five) from each of the six regional sites also advance to nationals.
Manke won the playoff on the first hole with a par. His third shot was a chip to within a foot or two of the hole, and tapped in for par. Doyle then missed his par putt from about eight feet to end the playoff.
"I'm happy for RJ," said UW head coach Alan Murray. "I'm so happy that he made it to the finals. He's got a good chance to win it."
Washington entered the day in eighth place, needing to move into the top five to continue the season. The Huskies spent much of the day battling with Oregon, Denver, Liberty and LSU, closing the gap to as few as two strokes at one point.
In the end, the UW finished with an 11-under, three-day total of 853. Arizona State, Stanford, BYU, Oregon and Liberty (in that order) earned a trip to nationals. LSU finished sixth and Denver was seventh.
"We just had a bad week, and at the worst time," Murray explained. "We made too many doubles and dropped too many shots, and couldn't overcome it. We probably got the best of the draw on the first day in terms of tee time. That was the sweet spot, but we didn't play well in round one and we were up against it from there. We had our chances, but didn't get it done."
As late as the 12th hole, Manke was alone in position to advance to nationals as the top individual, but a double bogey on the par-3 13th dropped him from third place over to a tie for eighth, and behind USC's Jackson Rivera, who was playing in Stockton as an individual.
Rivera, who had teed off 45 minutes later than Manke, remained in front of Manke until bogies on No. 12 and No. 13, coupled with a Manke birdie on No. 14, put the Husky senior back on top of the individual contenders.
At the same time, however, Doyle moved into the mix and was tied with Manke at 8-under with his team merely tied for fifth place -- meaning that if LSU advanced, he'd no longer have a role in the individual fight.
However, Liberty moved past LSU into fifth, dropping Doyle into the playoff.
Teddy LIn had the best round of the day among the five Husky golfers, with a 2-under 70. He carded one bogey, a double bogey, plus three birdies and an eagle-3 on the par-5 sixth hole. Lin finished 1-under for the tournament, tying him for 34th.
Senior Noah Woolsey's UW career came to a close with a 1-under 71 in the third round. He finished even for the tournament, tying him for 39th. Earlier this spring, Woolsey qualified to play on the PGA Tour Canada, just days before winning Pac-12 medalist.
Junior Petr Hruby was 2-over Wednesday and was the second-best overall UW finisher, at 2-under over the 54 holes, tying him for 27th place. Taehoon Song shot a 3-over 75 Wednesday and was 8-over for the tournament.
As a team, Washington concluded one of its most successful seasons ever, winning a school-record six tournament titles, including the Pac-12 Championship, while spending most of the year in the top 10.
"It was a great season. To win six times is an accomplishment," Murray said. "Pac-12 championships are difficult to win, and that was a great accomplishment. But right now, it's just too raw. When the dust settles, there were way more good moments than bad."
Manke will compete at the NCAA Championships at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., May 27-30. All 30 teams and six individuals will compete in three rounds. After the third round, the field will be cut to the top 15 teams and nine individuals not on an advancing team. The individual champion will be crowned following the fourth round (72 holes).