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Gordon leads Vandy to semis; SMU’s inspiring season ends

Carl Danoff/Vanderbilt Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Vanderbilt coach Scott Limbaugh had a feeling that the Commodores’ quarterfinal battle with Texas A&M would come down to the anchor match.

There was no one he wanted in that spot more than senior Will Gordon.

Gordon delivered, draining a breaking 6-foot par putt on the first extra hole – after hitting 3-wood off the tee into the tall grass – to beat Texas A&M’s Dan Erickson and send Vandy to the semifinals.

The Commodores will face Stanford, which beat Wake Forest, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

“For us, that particular match was our moment, and wanted to win that moment and I wanted Gordo to have it,” Limbaugh said of Gordon, who opened in 82 before playing his final 54 holes of stroke play and never trailed in his quarterfinal match. “He earned that moment. To see him pull through, I’m just really, really proud of him.”

No coach, though, was prouder of his team Tuesday than SMU’s Jason Enloe.

The Mustangs have been faced with more adversity this season than any program in the country – Enloe’s wife, Katie, died last summer from leukemia, leaving Enloe to care for their two young daughters; the team was disqualified from The Goodwin and nearly missed regionals because of it; sophomore Noah Goodwin injured his shoulder this spring.

Yet SMU rallied to qualify for the NCAA Championship and topped Clemson in a playoff Monday to advance to match play as the eighth seed. The Mustangs’ inspiring season may have come to a close Tuesday with a 4-1 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma State, but Enloe could barely find words to express what this team meant to him.

“Just resilience, life lessons, toughness and adversity,” Enloe said, fighting back tears. “These kids gave me everything, all year, especially this last month. I’ve said it a million times, I have the best team in America. Whether they’re the national champions on the course or not, there was no group of kids who were better.”

There were arguably no coaches better, either, as Enloe tops the list of favorites for national coach of the year.

“What he’s done this year, I would say he’s most likely the coach of the year,” said Oklahoma State head coach Alan Bratton, whose team will play Texas in the semifinals. “He should be. He’s had to deal with stuff that nobody should have to. I’ve known Jason a long time, he’s a class guy, and the way he got those guys to come together this year … credit them for the job he did.”

Added Goodwin: “He’s been through hell, there’s no doubt about it. Seeing him every day, he puts on a brave face; it’s one of the most inspiring things in the world, what he does for his two little girls and how he’s able to be there for us, as well, and doesn’t ask for anything in return. We know we need to be strong around him, but he does way more than anybody would be able to in the same situation.

“In my mind, he is coach of the year.”

Semifinals schedule

No. 2 Vanderbilt vs. No. 6 Stanford

  • Patrick Martin vs. Isaiah Salinda, 2:30 p.m. ET
  • John Augenstein vs. Henry Shimp, 2:40 p.m.
  • Reid Davenport vs. Brandon Wu, 2:50 p.m.
  • Harrison Ott vs. Daulet Tuleubayev, 3 p.m.
  • Will Gordon vs. David Snyder, 3:10 p.m.

No. 1 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Texas

  • Viktor Hovland vs. Spencer Soosman, 3:20 p.m. ET
  • Matthew Wolff vs. Cole Hammer, 3:30 p.m.
  • Hayden Wood vs. Pierceson Coody, 3:40 p.m.
  • Austin Eckroat vs. Parker Coody, 3:50 p.m.
  • Zach Bauchou vs. Steven Chervony, 4 p.m.