STILLWATER, Okla. -- The Duke men's golf team posted a 3-1-1 win over UCLA on Friday to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The Blue Devils got wins from Austin Cody, Tim Gornik and Wes Roach to set up a semifinal matchup with fifth-seed Georgia.
"We had a lot of fun out there today," said Cody. "It was nice to see Tim get up pretty big early and see a couple guys up, including myself. I just knew that if I could come through that we would only need one more match. It was nice to Wes clinch it today. I was impressed with the way we all played today."
Gornik, a sophomore from Slovenia, posted a commanding 6 & 5 win over Pontus Widegren. He went 1-up with a par on the second hole and went on to win holes No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 with pars to go 4-up through five holes. Gornik birdied the par 4 seventh hole to go 5-up before dropping his only hole of the day on No. 8. He recovered to win No. 10 and No. 11 with pars to go to 6-up and added pars on No. 12 and No. 13 to close out Widegren. Gornik is now 3-2 in match play this season.
"I just put the ball in the fairway every single time and made 13 straight pars," said Gornik. "I didn't miss a lot. I made a two great up and downs but I hit 11 of 13 greens and had some great two putts. I didn't really miss much but I didn't doing anything special. I actually missed makeable birdie putts but the 13 straight pars were enough."
Cody continued his undefeated match play run with a 3 & 2 victory over Alex Kim. The North Charleston, S.C., native dropped two of the first three holes on the day before settling in. He birdied the par 4 fourth hole and added a par win on No. 6 to square the match. Cody took his first lead with a par win on No. 7 and extending it to 2-up with a birdie on the par 3 11th hole. The two players matched each other shot for shot over the next four holes before Cody closed the match with a par win on No. 16. He is now 5-0-1 in match play for the year.
"I got off to a bad start with bogeys on the first three holes but I knew I hit some good golf shots that I just didn't get rewarded for a couple of them," said Cody. "The birdie on No. 4 really got me going and a got to 1-up with wins on No. 6 and No. 7. No. 10 was a big turning point in the match, I was in the fairway laying two and he had a makeable birdie putt. I was able to hit a seven iron to about three feet and he missed his putt so we halved the hole when it looked like he should have won with ease. On the par 3, I hit a five-iron to couple feet and he gave to me for birdie and that gave me a lot of momentum going into the end of the match."
Roach secured the clinching victory with a 3 & 1 win over Gregor Main. After tying on the first four holes, Main struck first with a birdie on No. 5 to go 1-up. Roach responded with par wins on No. 6 and No. 7 to take the advantage. He dropped a hole with a bogey on No. 9 but quickly recovered with par wins on No. 11 and No. 13 to go 2-up. Main recovered to win the next two holes to square the match before bounced back once again. He sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the par 3 15th hole to go 1-up and went on to win holes No. 16 and No. 17 to push the Blue Devils into the semifinals. Roach has won three straight match play matches and is 5-1 on the year in that format.
"I was 2-up through 12 holes and then I lost No. 13 and No. 14 so he had most of the momentum going into No. 15," said Roach. "I hit my shot to about 15 feet and I knew if I could capitalize on that putt I would have some huge momentum going into the next three holes. I was able to get up and down from behind the green on No. 16 to save par and at that point I knew Tim and Austin had closed out their matches so at 2-up with two holes to go I knew that if I could tie or win No. 17 we would close out the match. It was nice to see Tim and Austin up behind the green as I closed my match out."
Julian Suri and UCLA's Pedro Figueiredo engaged in a back and forth match that ended all square. Suri struck first with a birdie on No. 1 but dropped holes No. 2 and No. 5 to fall 1-down. The St. Augustine, Fla., native recovered to win No. 7 and No. 8 but made the turn at all-square after dropping a hole on the par 5 ninth hole. Suri posted par wins on No. 11 and No. 13 to go 2-up but Figueiredo cut the deficit in half with a win on the par 5 14th hole. Suri responded with a birdie win on the par 3 15th hole to get back to 2-up with three holes remaining. Figueiredo went par-birdie to square the match and both players parred the par 5 18th hole to halve the match. Suri is now 5-0-1 in match play competition.
With the team victory in hand, Brinson Paolini dropped a 1-up decision to Patrick Cantlay of UCLA. Paolini fell behind 2-down through six holes of play before winning the par 4 seventh hole. He dropped a hole on No. 8 but birdied the par 5 ninth hole to make the turn at 1-down. Cantlay regained a 2-up advantage with a birdie on No. 12. Paolini, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., cut the deficit in half with a par on No. 15 but could get no closer as Cantlay matched him shot for shot over the final three holes. Paolini is now 4-2 on the season in match play events.
Duke is 6-0 with a 19-5-2 mark in match play competition on the season. The Blue Devils take on fifth-seed Georgia tomorrow in the NCAA Championship Semifinals. The match will begin at 11:00 am. Live scoring for the semifinals is available at www.golfstat.com/d1m.
"We love playing match play," said Gornik. "Everyone is so consistent. Everybody hits it straight, hits a lot of greens and can make clutch putts. In match play that puts your opponent under pressure."
The other semifinal will put defending champion Augusta State against host Oklahoma State. ASU advanced with a 3-2 wins over Georgia Tech, while Oklahoma State topped Ohio State, 3-1-1.
*** Duke lost only five holes on the back nine at Karsten Creek Golf Club on Friday ... Gornik and Cody did not lose a hole on the back nine, while Paolini dropped just one hole.
*** Cody dropped two of his first three holes, before responding by not losing any of the next 13 holes in his victory.
*** Roach won five of the eight back nine holes en route to his 3 & 1 victory.