EUGENE, Ore. – The 30-team field for the NCAA Championship wrapped up the third round of stroke play Sunday at Eugene Country Club.
The top 15 teams after 54 holes advanced to Monday’s final round of stroke play, when the individual champion will be crowned and the field will be decided for the eight-team match-play bracket. Here is a quick snapshot of the action:
Team leader: Vanderbilt (+5)
Second place: Texas (+7)
Best of the rest: Southern Cal (+10), LSU (+11), Oregon (+12), Arkansas (+15), Arizona State (+17), California (+18)
Work to do: Oklahoma State (+19), Illinois (+19), Kentucky (+23), South Carolina (+25), Florida (+26), Louisville (+27), Oklahoma (+27)
Better luck next year: TCU (+27), Clemson (+27), Georgia (+27), Stanford (+44)
Individual leader: Aaron Wise, Oregon (-6)
Skinny: Vanderbilt, which finished second in the stroke-play portion a year ago, is back in good position thanks to a solid third round in which team leader Matthias Schwab shot 66. Texas matched the low round of the week, a 3-under 277, to jump five spots, into solo second. The Longhorns were led by player of the year contender Beau Hossler, who shot 67, and Gavin Hall, who had a 68. They didn’t count a score worse than 71.
Host school Oregon is in good shape to make match play, but the Ducks were helped immensely by standout sophomore Aaron Wise’s third-round 64, which gave him a two-shot lead in the individual race. Wise also won the prestigious Pacific Coast Amateur on this course last summer. Illinois, which won an NCAA-best nine times this season, shot one of the worst scores of the contenders – a 9-over 289 to fall outside the bubble, into a tie for ninth. The Illini are only one stroke back of the all-important eighth spot for match play.
One of the week’s biggest surprises continued to be Stanford, which finished 28th in the 30-team field. The Cardinal was one of the hottest teams entering NCAAs, with three consecutive victories, but junior Maverick McNealy finished in a tie for 112th individually – easily the worst performance of his career. There was a five-way tie for 14th place.
New this year, instead of a team playoff, the NCAA used the fifth-man score to serve as a tiebreaker. Louisville and Oklahoma had the best “throw-out scores,” so they advanced to the final day of stroke play.