Arkansas Rallies On Back Nine; Drop Match Late
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas’ record-setting season came to an end on a rain-soaked Tuesday with a 3&2 loss in the first round of match play at the 2019 NCAA Championship at Blessings Golf Club.
Arkansas finishes the season T5 overall after reaching match play at the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history.
The Razorbacks mounted a comeback on the front nine after trailing early from their start on hole 10. Brooke Matthews was down big on the back nine, but she rallied to take a lead. Her opponent had an ace on the 17th hole of the round to tie it up. Matthews, however, calmly hit her second shot on the final hole close to the pin to win. Matthews is a perfect 5-0 in match play this season.
“Well, it was just a great shot (by her opponent),” said Matthews. “I knew I had to hit a good shot and I did it. I knew I wasn’t going to match that (the hole in one) so I just had to move on and get the next one.”
NCAA Champion Maria Fassi was next with a win. She was even for much of the match before winning the 14th hole of her round, breaking the tie. She added a win on the next hole and hung on for the victory.
Kaylee Benton was down three at the turn against the 2018 NCAA Champion but chipped away at the lead moving within one at the 17th hole. Benton had a long putt to win 17 hole and stay in the match. She drained it and moved to the 18th hole.
Benton had a perfect shot to the pin but needed to birdie and had to hope that her opponent would shoot par or higher to force extra golf.
Senior Dylan Kim also played even with her opponent forcing a pressure-filled final two holes. Tied through 16, Kim lost No. 8 when her opponent counted a two on the par-3 hole. The duo moved on to the 18th hole of the match and her opponent hit a perfect second shot close to the hole. Kim was in the rough but also spun her second shot near the flag. Both players made their shots as Wake Forest escaped with the win.
The four remaining teams return to the course at 7 a.m. for the semifinal matches. Those winners move on to the championship match following pairing selections. Duke faces Arizona while Wake Forest takes on Auburn.
Brooke Matthews (Ark) def. Letizia Bagnoli (WF) 1-up
Maria Fassi (Ark) def. Vanessa Knecht (WF) 2&1
Siyun Liu (WF) def. Dylan Kim (Ark) 1-up
Emilia Migliaccio (WF) def. Ximena Gonzalez (Ark) 6&4
Jennifer Kupcho (WF) def. Kaylee Benton (Ark) 1-up
About the Day
The day began with the completion of the third and final round at 6:45 a.m. Those players completed the round and the coaching staffs from the eight advancing teams met in the media center to make their selections for match play. Arkansas hit the course in the second pairing starting at hole 10 at 8:50 a.m.
The Razorbacks got through a couple of holes when play was halted at 10:10 a.m. for weather. Teams made several attempts to restart only to retreat to the clubhouse.
Play finally resumed at 4:20 p.m. with Arkansas trailing early in four of the five matches. Only senior Dylan Kim had an advantage at the break.
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