Michigan's surprising run in the NCAA men's golf championships came to an end Friday night. Texas A&M defeated the Wolverines 3-1-1 in the match play semifinals at Inverness Club. UM had advanced to the semis earlier in the day by defeating Southern Cal 3-2.
"I couldn't be more proud of the way they played today," UM coach Andrew Sapp said. "They battled to the last hole. It was just tremendous effort."
Michigan entered the tournament as the 29th seed out of 30 teams. The Wolverines were the last of five teams to qualify at the Austin regional. The group proved to have the makeup to excel in the new format, ending with its highest finish at national championships since 1952.
"Our team is just so mentally tough," sophomore Lion Kim said. "That's what you've got to be on these types of golf courses. Just keep grinding and fight until the end."
Kim led the Wolverines to the quarterfinal victory over USC. The win was complete for UM when he hit his second shot on the par-4 17th hole to within a foot of the pin to end his match.
"That final shot from Lion was unbelievable," Sapp said. "We were talking while walking down the 16th fairway, and he said, this is why I came to Michigan so we can help this team get to where we are right now."
UM fell behind early to Texas A&M but began a rally on the back nine. When senior Bill Rankin made a birdie putt on No. 17 to win the hole, the chance for UM to tie or win came within sight.
On 18, Rankin missed the green twice and eventually conceded the match to the Aggies' Matt Van Zandt. It was a painful way to end an exciting ride, but the Wolverines said they'd soon be able to put it in perspective.
"I'm not going to forget this one," Rankin said. "It was pretty overwhelming. You just see how hard those other guys fight."
ACE IN THE HOLE: Arkansas junior David Lingmerth made his first career hole-in-one in the Razorbacks' semifinal match yesterday. Lingmerth aced the 202-yard No. 3 using a 7-iron.
"As soon as I hit the ball it felt great," Lingmerth said. "I thought it was the best shot I ever hit right away. I thought it might go too far since I hit it so good."
Lingmerth, a native of Tranas, Sweden, also eagled the eighth hole, helping him to win his match over Georgia's Hudson Swafford 3 and 2.
"The guy had two eagles and five birdies," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "That's some pretty good playing, so you just have to tip your hat to Arkansas. Sometimes it just isn't your day."
It was the second ace this week on hole No. 3. Conrad Shindler of Texas A&M also achieved the feat on Tuesday in the first round of stroke play.
TALENT SEARCH: Buddy Marruci, captain of the U.S. Walker Cup team that will face an amateur team from Great Britain-Ireland in September, was on hand at Inverness yesterday morning for the Oklahoma State-Georgia match.
Georgia star Brian Harman, a senior, reportedly will delay his decision to turn professional in hopes of making the Walker Cup team.
He played for the U.S. in the 2005 event before beginning his college career. He was the youngest golfer ever to represent the U.S. in the Walker Cup and posted a 2-0-1 record.
Marruci watched as Harman finished with three straight birdies in his match against Rickie Fowler, giving No. 2 Georgia a victory over top-ranked Oklahoma State.
YOU'RE AWAY: Michigan's Matt Thompson halved his afternoon match against John Hurley, the Texas A&M slugger who is considered among the longest hitters in college golf. It was no small accomplishment considering Thompson was hitting first from the fairways all day.
It may have been an extreme example, but on the second hole Hurley outdrove Thompson by 88 yards.
Thompson is quite the match play competitor. He went 3-0 earlier this year during the Big Ten match play tournament. And he won his morning match yesterday, 4 and 3, against Southern Cal's Tom Glissmeyer.