Utah Golf Comes up Short As Pepperdine Emerges as Men’s NCAA Golf Champions

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Ute Golfer Steven Croft. (Chronicle archives)

By Sean Overton, Sports Writer

On June 3, what has been a wild ride through the 2021 NCAA Championship ended with the Pepperdine Waves as the 2021 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Golf Champions. The Waves were national title favorites back in 2020, before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Fortunately for Pepperdine, the team had their shot at redemption this year and made the most of it. They defeated Oklahoma for their second title in program history, with their first coming in 1997.

Team Play

Arizona State and Oregon State were the only Pac-12 teams to advance from the Regionals into the Championship. Unfortunately for Oregon State, they were knocked out quickly in the first round of elimination by placing 23rd in the field of 30. The top 15 teams advanced, including Arizona State.

The semifinals came down to No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 1 Arizona State, No. 3 Pepperdine, and No. 2 Oklahoma State. Oklahoma defeated Arizona State 3-2, and Pepperdine topped Oklahoma State 3-0-2. Pepperdine’s Clay Feagler was the highlight of the day, scoring a hole-in-one on hole eight and winning five consecutive holes, numbers eight through 12.

Arizona State started off strong against Oklahoma, with Chun An Yu and Ryggs Johnston winning the first two, but Oklahoma swept the final three and went on to defeat Arizona State in a close 3-2 victory.

Pepperdine and Oklahoma then played in the finals of match play. Joe Highsmith, William Mouw and Feagler all won their matches to give Pepperdine a 3-2 victory in the championship.

It was a wild ride for the Waves, as they were tied for fifth place in the Cle Elum Regional with Utah for most of the event, but Pepperdine secured a fourth-place finish and a trip to the championship on the final day, while the Utes shot poorly for their last hoorah, falling to seventh place and losing their spot in the championship.

Individual Play

Clemson Senior Turk Pettit won the individual title at the 2021 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Golf Championship. Pettit finished at seven under par to become just the second Clemson player to claim the individual title, following Charles Warren in 1997.

This marks Pettit’s second career win, after his victory freshman year at the Irish Creek Invitational.

“[The] last tournament I [will] ever play as a college golfer I ended up winning,” Pettit said. “I’ve only had two wins in college golf, so that’s pretty special.”

Utah’s Tristan Mandur finished best on the team in the Cle Elum Regional, and qualified as an individual for the championships. Mandur went on to shoot three over par in the championships and finished in a five-way tie for 17th place.

He also finished in a tie for second out of players solely competing as an individual. The top individual competitor was Ricky Castillo from Florida, and Mandur tied with Davis Thompson from Georgia.

Mandur’s finish of 283 was a career-low in a 72-hole tournament, and also became Utah’s lowest NCAA Championship score.

“Overall, it has been a great season, and I am excited for the future of our golf program,” head coach Garrett Clegg said. “Great things are ahead.”

 

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