STILLWATER, Okla. — The No. 3 seed Oklahoma men’s golf team ended its run at the 2018 NCAA Championships on Tuesday, falling to Auburn, 3-2, in the match play quarterfinals. The tournament is being held at the par-72, 7,460-yard Karsten Creek Golf Club.
“This has been one of best years of golf in Oklahoma history,” OU head coach Ryan Hybl said. “We won a Big 12 Championship and a (NCAA) Regional Championship. We’ve been ranked at the top almost all year and made the final eight and had a chance. I’m really excited for the young guys that got the experience of match play. Overall, it was a phenomenal year with a great group of guys.”
Alabama, Auburn, Duke and Oklahoma State earned spots in the match play quarterfinals. The semifinal round will take place Tuesday afternoon, and the final round will take place Wednesday afternoon.
Junior Blaine Hale gave the Sooners an early lead by defeating Auburn’s Jovan Rebula, 4 and 3. Rebula went 1-up in the match with an eagle from 150 yards out on hole No. 12. Hale quickly battled back to take the lead for good on hole No. 17 and never looked back.
The Tigers evened the match at 1-1 as OU’s Garett Reband fell 6 and 5 to Auburn’s Ben Schlottman.
Junior Brad Dalke led wire-to-wire in his match, topping Auburn’s Wells Padgett. The junior opened the match by winning the first three holes before extending his lead on the back nine, putting OU in front 2-1 with two matches left on course.
Redshirt sophomore Quade Cummins rebounded from early deficit, but ultimately fell to Auburn’s Trace Crowe, 1-up. Cummins was 2-down with 12 holes to play and cut the Auburn advantage in half by winning hole No. 5, but Crowe withstood Cummins’ late charge to take match.
Auburn’s Ben Mancheno clinched the victory for the Tigers, defeating OU senior Grant Hirschman, 3&1.
Hirschman finishes his OU career after helping the Sooners to the 2017 NCAA title and the 2018 Big 12 Championship. During his senior season, he finished with a 71.44 stroke average, the fifth-best mark in single-season history. The Collierville, Tenn., native played in 162 career rounds, the most by a Sooner in program history and ranks third all-time with a career stroke average of 72.19.
The Sooners made their third consecutive appearance in the match play competition, the only school in the nation to accomplish that feat. OU is also one of three schools to advance to the NCAA Championships in each of the last eight years, joining Illinois and Texas.