Oct. 30, 2006
FORT WORTH - Oliver Bekker and Dusty Smith both won their matches to help Lamar University beat Texas A&M Monday in the semifinals of the Callaway Golf Match Play Championship at Colonial Country Club.
The Cardinals and Aggies both won two of the five matches and halved the fifth match, but No. 11-seed Lamar advanced to today's championship based on the total holes won tiebreaker, 25-23. Lamar will face No. 4-seed Oklahoma State, who defeated No. 1-seed Florida 3-1-1, for the championship. The Cowboys won the 2004 Callaway Match Play Championship and are the defending NCAA champions.
"We were down in three matches with three holes to go, so to come back and win was just terrific," said first-year Lamar coach Brian White. "This is the most excited I've ever been on the golf course at a tournament. For Lamar to have a chance to play the defending National Champions is a tremendous opportunity. We'll just go out tomorrow, play the best we can and see what happens."
Bekker, a native of Stellenbosch, South Africa, ran his record to 3-0 this week with a dominating 7 and 5 win over Robert Gates. Gates won the second hole, which was the par-4 17th, but Bekker answered with a birdie on the par-4 18th hole to return the match to all square. Bekker then proceeded to win seven of the next 10 holes, closing out the match when Gates made bogey on the par-4 10th.
"Oliver has played great this week and has been very aggressive," said White. "It's a great advantage to be able to play that aggressive in this type of format. Thankfully it has worked for him and for us this week, otherwise things can go south in a hurry if you are not playing well."
Smith, a native of The Woodlands, was 2-down in his match with Matt Van Zandt with seven holes to play and remained 1-down with three holes left. However, Smith returned the match to all square when Van Zandt made double-bogey on the par-4 14th hole.
With the match all square heading into the final hole, which was the par-3 16th, Smith converted a two-putt from 30-feet to make par. Van Zandt left his first putt 8-feet short and missed the par putt to give Smith the 1-up win, which sealed the match for the Cardinals.
Russell Helson, a junior from Georgetown, halved his match with Martin Piller. Helson made birdie on the par-4 second hole to take a 1-up lead and went 2-up when Piller made bogey on the par-4 third hole. Helson bogeyed the par-3 fourth hole and the match returned to all square when Helson made bogey on the par-4 seventh.
After the two golfers exchanged bogeys on the eighth and ninth holes, Helson made birdie on the par-5 11th hole to take a 1-up lead. Piller answered with a birdie on the par-4 12th and the match remained all square for the final three holes.
Casey Clendenon, a junior from Katy, lost 4 and 2 to the Aggies Bronson Burgoon. Justin Harding, a sophomore from Cape Town, South Africa, lost 2-up to Trey Todd. Harding won both his matches on Sunday.
Lamar continues to move up in the national rankings. The Cardinals are currently ranked 8th in both the Golfstat collegiate rankings and the Golfweek Sagarin Performance Index. Lamar is also ranked 15th in the GCAA/Bridgestone Coaches Poll (10/26/06), which is voted on by a panel of NCAA Division I head coaches.
Callaway Golf Match Play Championship
October 30, 2006 - Semifinal Match Results
(11) Lamar def. (7) Texas A&M, 2-2-1*
Russell Helson, Lamar halved Martin Piller, Texas A&M
Bronson Burgoon, Texas A&M def. Casey Clendenon, Lamar, 4 and 2
Oliver Bekker, Lamar def. Robert Gates, Texas A&M, 7 and 5
Trey Todd, Texas A&M def. Justin Harding, Lamar, 2-up
Dusty Smith, Lamar def. Matt Van Zandt, Texas A&M, 1-up
*Lamar wins total holes won tiebreaker, 25-23