The Commodores’ men’s golf team dropped their opening round match at the SEC Championship in Sea Island, Ga. to the Alabama Crimson Tide, 3-2 on Saturday on the Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course. The match came down to the final hole with the Tide squeaking out a victory to advance to the semifinals later Saturday.
Vanderbilt, who entered the match as the number three seed after the 54-hole stroke-play portion of the tournament concluded on Friday, received wins from Patrick Martin, who won his match 4 & 3 over Davis Shore, and John Augenstein, who captured his match, 2 & 1 over Wilson Furr.
The Tide’s Davis Riley knocked off Mason Greenberg, 2 & 1 in a tight match, while the Commodores’ Will Gordon and Alabama’s Lee Hodges, two of the best players in collegiate golf, battled toe-to-toe in their match, with Hodges coming away from a come-from-behind win, 1-up, after winning the 18th hole. Gordon led the match by three holes through 10 holes, but Hodges gradually worked his way back into things before squaring the match on the 14th hole and then winning the 18th to come away with a win.
Vanderbilt’s Theo Humphrey and Alabama’s Jonathan Hardee were the last pairing to tee off for the two teams, and they were also the last two golfers on the course as play concluded. Hardee had Humphrey dormied with three holes to play, but the senior from Greenwich, Conn. worked his way back into the match by winning 16 and 17 before halving 18 and giving Hardee the 1-up win and the Crimson Tide the 3-2 match win.
“Man this really hurts,” said Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh. “We knew that we needed to bring our best today because we were playing a really good team. We got off to a great start this morning, had a lot of energy, and momentum. They made some plays and we made some plays and it was a heavyweight fight. Ultimately, Alabama made a couple more plays than we did and they get to move on and we have to go home. That’s how this match play works and we have been on both sides of this now. I love our kids so much and when they hurt, I hurt. Vanderbilt golf means so much to all of us and none of us feel great right now, but we know what kind of team we have and we still have some great opportunities in front of us. There certainly were a lot of Vanderbilt fans here this week and we are so thankful for every one of them.”
The Crimson Tide moved on to face Florida in the semifinals, while LSU will take on Auburn in the other semifinal matchup.
“I believe in this group and I believe in the leadership of this team,” said Limbaugh. “We know what we have to do and we will spend the next couple of weeks preparing for the NCAA postseason. We are not satisfied with where we are and our focus will be on doing the little tiny details a little better going forward.”
Vanderbilt will find out their regional location on Wednesday, May 2, as they begin their NCAA Championship quest. The six regional sites are RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA: Lonnie Poole Golf Course, Raleigh, North Carolina; North Carolina State University, host; BRYAN, TEXAS: Traditions Club, Bryan Texas; Texas A&M University, host; COLUMBUS, OHIO: Scarlet Course/OSU Golf Course, Columbus, Ohio; The Ohio State University, host; KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA: Reunion Resort, Kissimmee, Florida; University of Central Florida, host; NORMAN, OKLAHOMA: Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, Norman, Oklahoma; University of Oklahoma, host; and STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA: The Reserve at Spanos Park, Stockton, California; University of the Pacific, host.
Alabama 3, Vanderbilt 2
Lee Hodges (Alabama ) defeated Will Gordon (Vanderbilt), 1-up
Davis Riley (Alabama) defeated Mason Greenberg (Vanderbilt), 2 & 1
Patrick Martin (Vanderbilt) defeated Davis Shore (Alabama), 4 & 3
John Augenstein (Vanderbilt) defeated Wilson Farr (Alabama), 2 & 1
Jonathan Hardee (Alabama) defeated Theo Humphrey (Vanderbilt), 1-up