BRADENTON, Fla. – A long day of drama got off to an early start Monday when SMU defeated Washington in a team playoff to advance to the final round of stroke play at the NCAA Championship.
In the play-five, count-four format, SMU was 2 over par, while Washington was 3 over. Huskies sophomore Corey Pereira missed a 4-foot par putt that would have sent his team to another playoff hole.
“I told my assistant (Chris Parra) last night that regardless of what happens, it was going to be good for my kids to get this experience,” SMU coach Jason Enloe said. “It was really cool to be in that pressure environment.”
SMU didn’t have much time to celebrate – it was first off the 10th hole at 10 a.m. ET.
Though they survived the first cut, the Mustangs are still 12 shots behind eighth place. The low eight teams after Monday’s final round advance to the match-play portion of the championship.
The shot of the playoff was struck by SMU junior Austin Smotherman, who hit a 4-iron from 225 yards to inside 10 feet.
“Just an unbelievable shot,” Washington coach Matt Thurmond said. “That was the turning point right there.”
Washington still had a chance to tie. After missing short and left of the green with his approach shot, Pereira used the slope behind the hole and nestled his pitch to about 4 feet. His putt burned the left edge.
“We’re bummed,” Thurmond said, “and we would have loved to play more, but it’s not a national championship we just lost; it was for 15th and 16th place. You’re going to have those putts and shots, the things that you’re going to remember and want to come through, and unfortunately we just couldn’t get it done.”
Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan is tied for seventh individually, so he will play in Monday’s final round.
SMU’s Bryson Dechambeau is leading the individual race at 7-under 209. He tees off at 10:40 a.m. off 10 tee.