BRADENTON, Fla. – Freshmen Kolton Crawford came up big for the No. 8 University of Arkansas men’s golf team, winning the final match of the day against No. 17 Duke in extra holes to secure the team title, 3.5-1.5, at the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.
The victory is Arkansas’ sixth of the year, setting a school record for tournament wins in a season. The 2011-12 Razorbacks broke the 18-year-old mark of the 1991-92 and 1992-93 Razorback teams who each won five tournaments in a season.
“That was a great team win,” Arkansas Head Coach Brad McMakin said. “We needed every point that we got today against a very good Duke team that played in the match play segment of the NCAA Championships just last year. You have to give Kolton and Thomas (Sorensen) a lot of credit. They didn’t let anything bother them, even as they were asked to continue their rounds. I am very proud of this team for persevering through a tough three days of competition.”
With two of three matches in hand, Crawford and Sorensen finished their rounds all square, conceivably giving Arkansas three points and the team victory. However, rules officials put the two Arkansas freshmen back on the course, in accordance to NCAA Championship match play rules which state that a team must win three matches in order to be considered the winner. Crawford’s birdie on the 21st hole of competition clinched the victory for Arkansas while Sorensen’s match was then considered halved.
The first Razorback to clinch a point on Tuesday was sophomore Sebastian Cappelen who made it a clean sweep of his matches with a victory over Brinson Paolini, 4&3. Cappelen would fall behind on the second hole, but quickly moved the match to all square with a birdie on the par 5, third. He took his first lead on the fifth with a par putt, but Paolini recovered from a two-hole deficit by eight. Cappelen again took the lead after the players made the turn, winning four of the next six holes to end his match after 15.
Cook made it three victories in four matches when he dispatched Austin Cody, 3&1. Losing the first hole, Cook won the second with a birdie and took the lead by the fourth hole, a lead he would never relinquish. Cook won the fifth and sixth holes to go up two and made it three with a par on eight. The Jonesboro, Ark., native would go up by as many as four with a par on 14, before Cody rallied to take back-to-back holes on 16 and 17, but a birdie on 18 clinched the match.
In control of his match most of the day, Sorensen won the first hole of the day, No. 4, and held a slim margin over Tim Gornik for 15 holes before the Duke player moved it back to all square on No. 1. Gornick won a second straight hole to go up one, but a clutch birdie by Sorensen on the par 5, third, allowed him move the match back to all square at the end of 18 holes.
Crawford found himself behind for a good portion of his match with Yaroslav Merkulov, but a birdie on the par five, 17th, the 15th hole of the day allowed him to get back to all square where he would hold serve through the end of the 18-hole round. Down by as many as two holes at two different points in the match, Crawford continued to battle back and tied the match four times after falling behind to his Duke counterpart.
Tracy’s round saw him fall behind early to Julian Suri and never able to get back into the match. Down by three holes midway through the front nine, the match would end after 15 holes with Suri taking the victory 5&3.
The Razorbacks return to the links for their final regular season tournament, April 9-10, at The Woodlands All-American Intercollegiate.