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PROVO — Preston Summerhays' storybook freshman season of college golf came within a hair of a national title Wednesday afternoon on his home course.
Travis Vick took the 18th hole via concession with the final putt of the final pairing, helping Texas edge Arizona State 3-2 in the match-play finals of the NCAA golf championships Wednesday at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Summerhays, the two-time Utah state amateur champion who was named Pac-12 freshman of the year, lost his first individual match of match play as the Sun Devils took their first match-play loss of the tournament.
The son of Tony Finau's swing coach Boyd Summerhays was edged by Pierceson Cody 2 and 1. The Longhorn senior went 2 up after three holes and never trailed against Summerhays, who averaged 71.4 strokes over 32 rounds in a breakout freshman season that ended on the Sun Devils' home course in the national championship.
"It's just special to be here and to have all these people cheering us on," said Arizona State coach Matt Thurmond, the 1994 WAC Freshman of the Year who played at BYU from 1993-99. "They're worthy of that ... they did everything we asked them to do. I love these guys; sad to see the seniors be done, and just a whisker from winning the national championship.
"Last year, we made the semifinals and it was just natural motivation; you don't need to remind these guys much when you're that choice. Hopefully we'll have a chance to get back here and do something. But Texas is a great team, and they played awesome. They didn't leave any room."
With the win, the four-time national champion Longhorns became the first team to win two titles in the match-play era.
Summerhays opened match play with a 7-and-5 win over Oklahoma's Cole Gotterup, who won the Haskins Award given annually to the nation's top golfer since 1971. The Scottsdale, Arizona, product then wen to beat Pepperdine's Joe Highsmith, 2 up in Tuesday's semifinals to help Arizona State advance to the championship against Texas.
Summerhays also shot 9-over-par 289 to finish tied for 32nd after stroke play, which saw Vanderbilt's Gordon Sargent win medalist honors in a playoff after shooting even-par 280.
BYU finished tied for 21st after the three-day stroke play after adding the Cougars' third-round score of 290 hung Thursday to Sunday's round in accommodating the university's longstanding religious policy of not playing on Sunday. Former Davis High star Cole Ponich led BYU through 54 holes with a three-day total of 220 to tie for 55th place. David Timmins was two shots back at 222, followed by Carson Lundell at 223 and freshman and recent Skyline High grad Tyson Shelley at 225.
"I am really proud of our guys for their hard work, dedication and how much they fought for the opportunity to compete on the biggest stage in college golf," BYU coach Bruce Brockbank said after Sunday's finish. "After the rough patch we hit during the fall season, we didn't know if making it to the national championship would be possible, but this group rallied together, worked their tails off, played some incredible golf and were able to make it a reality."
Playing in its first NCAA championship since 1988, Utah shot 64-over 904 to finish 27th. Javier Barcos led the Utes with 12-over 222, four shots ahead of reigning Utah state amateur runner-up Blake Tomlinson. Reigning state amateur champion Martin Leon and Tristan Mandur shot 24-over 234, and Braxton Watts carded 27-over 237 for the Utes.
"I know this wasn't the national championship that we wanted, but it was great to be here," Utah coach Garrett Clegg said. "It was a huge learning opportunity for Javier, Martin and Braxton. Hopefully next year we will be back here to finish our season and they will be better prepared for what is in front of them."
Former Weber High standout Connor Howe, who plays at Georgia Tech, shot 13-over 293 to finish tied for 47th.