Wake Forest wins ACC title for coach Haas — Finally
By STEVE WILLIAMS
By the narrowest of margins, Wake Forest finally has an Atlantic Coast Conference championship for long-time coach Jerry Haas.
It was Wake Forest’s 19th ACC title – most for any program in the league – but the first for Haas, who took over the program in 1997. There have been numerous close calls during his tenure and finally it turned out Wake Forest’s way.
First, the Demon Deacons narrowly survived the stroke-play part of the event, which required a top-four finish among the 12 teams to advance to match play. North Carolina took the top spot with 829, Georgia Tech shot 838, Florida State 845 and Wake Forest 847. It took birdies on the final two holes by sophomore Michael Brennan to get the Demon Deacons past Notre Dame by a single shot.
In the semifinals, Wake Forest defeated North Carolina 3-1-1 while Georgia Tech got past Florida State by the same margin.
In the championship match, played April 25 in Panama City, Fla., Wake Forest needed extra holes to capture a 3-2 victory. Senior Parker Gilliam and Brennan won their matches and it was 2-2 with only senior Alex Fitzpatrick left on the course.
Fitzpatrick was involved in a tight match with Georgia Tech freshman Benjamin Reuter until he prevailed with a par on the third extra hole. He never trailed in the match but never led by more than 2-up. Reuter got even with a birdie on the 17th hole and both players had a par on the 18th and then the first two playoff holes. Reuter ran into trouble on the 21st hole and ended up conceding a par to Fitzpatrick.
“I’m so happy for these players,” Haas said. “They’re all telling me ‘This one’s for you, coach.’ In some ways, I feel it, but no, they do all the work.”
Added Fitzpatrick: “Just shivers down my spine, goose bumps, the excitement, knowing that my whole team, the coaches, the support was just amazing. I couldn’t be happier to get it done for Wake Forest.”
The Demon Deacons will now move on to the NCAA Regionals, which will be played May 16-18.
UNCG second in SoCon
Despite outstanding efforts by grad student Nick Lyerly of Salisbury and junior Noah Connor of Reidsville, UNCG settled for a distant second to East Tennessee State in the Southern Conference Championship played April 22-24 at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga.
Lyerly shot 72-69-65 to finish second while Connor posted 70-72-70 to tie for seventh, his season best.
The Spartans also got solid contributions from Tommy Lamb, Simon Balbin and Randall Hudson (all in the top-18 of the 40-player field) but they were no match for ETSU, which had all five players in the top seven. The Bucs set a 54-hole tournament record 825 (-39) and won by 19 strokes over UNCG.
Redshirt sophomore Remi Chartier of Canada was medalist for ETSU, ending eight shots ahead of Lyerly with an 18-under blitz, highlighted by a second-round 63.
“The guys did great and had a very good tournament,” said UNCG coach Terrance Stewart. “ETSU played phenomenal. We went 20-2 against the conference this year and 1-2 against ETSU.”
East Tennessee earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals May 16-18. UNCG’s Lyerly will receive an invitation to participate as an individual.
Also noted from April events:
- Blake Brantley tied for sixth and helped Yale win the Ivy League Championship April 22-24 at Century CC in Purchase, N.Y. Brantley, a freshman from Winston-Salem, shot 72-72-78 and ended four shots off the pace of teammate Ben Carpenter. Earlier in April, Brantley finished third in the Yale Invitational with 71-69.Greensboro College placed second in the USA South Athletic Conference tournament April 18-20 in Spartanburg,
- S.C. Methodist had the top three finishers and dominated the tournament with a 25-under team tally that was 36 stokes better than Greensboro. Carson Castelli, a junior from Greensboro, tied for 12th with 73-76-74. Connor Brown, who tied for fourth, Zach Swing (T-8), JZeke Dukes (11th) and Davis Reynolds (T-12) also were part of the Pride lineup.
- Daniel Jones of Greensboro finished 20th in the ODAC Championship on April 29-May 1 at Old Trail GC in Crozet, Va. The Randolph-Macon freshman shot 74-73-73 as Randolph-Macon finished sixth among 11 teams. Landon Barnes, a sophomore at Guilford from Pilot Mountain was 32nd with 74-76-77. Guilford was fifth in the event won by Hampden-Sydney.
- Michael Childress tied for 17th and Garrett Clark tied for 21st in the Atlantic 10 Championship in Reunion, Fla., helping Richmond to a tie for fourth in the team standings. Childress, a senior from Salisbury, shot 75-72-70 while Clark, a sophomore from Burlington, shot 76-72-70. Davidson College won the 11-team event.
- Woodson Smith, a Sewanee University senior from Martinsville, placed 19th in the SAA Conference Championships with 80-73-80.
- Emily Hawkins posted three consecutive 75s and helped Campbell take first place in the medal play portion of the Big South Conference Championship at the Patriot GC in Ninety Six, S.C. Hawkins, a senior from Lexington, finished seventh, 13 shots back of teammate Anna Nordfors. The Camels ended 12 shots better than USC Upstate. The top four teams advanced to match play and Campbell got past UNC Asheville and USC Upstate, both by 3-2 margins to take the title. Hawkins won her first match 3 and 2, but lost 2 and 1 in the final.
- Malory Fobes, a junior from East Bend, tied for sixth in the CAA Women’s Championship at St. James Plantation in Southport. Fobes shot 77-71-77 to help UNC Wilmington place third in the seven-team event. Carrie Catherine Ganim, a UNCW senior from Greensboro, tied for 20th with 75-79-77.
- North Carolina’s Kayla Smith shot 76-75-71 and tied for 19th in the ACC Tournament at The Reserve Club in Pawleys Island, S.C.
- Samantha DeBusk helped UNC Pembroke claim the Conference Carolinas Championship in early April. DeBusk, a junior from Lexington, shot 86-79-74 at Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell, Ga., to tie for eighth in the 50-player field. Her 74 was her best of the season and ranked second on the Pembroke final-round scoresheet as the Braves ran away to a 46-shot victory over runner-up Mount Olive.
- With top-15 finishes, Victoria Ladd and Madison Isaacson of Greensboro led Western Carolina to a fourth-place finish in the Mimosa Hills Intercollegiate. Ladd, a junior, finished 13th with 77-72-76 and Isaacson, a senior, tied for 14th with 78-75-73. Later in April, Ladd notched a tie for 15th in the Southern Conference Championship at Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. She posted 77-76-76.
- Merrick Semans, a sophomore from Winston-Salem, tied for sixth in the SAA Conference Championship at Braselton, Ga. Semans shot 76-83-80, helping Sewanee to a second-place finish.