Pat Sanchez helped key a dramatic comeback for MU with his 3-under-par round.
April 28, 2015
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OKATIE, S.C. -- Pat Sanchez drained a 20-foot putt from the fringe of the green on the 18th hole to save par and seal up Marquette's second BIG EAST men's golf team championship in school history, a two-stroke come-from-behind victory over DePaul decided in the late stages of Tuesday's final round at Callawassie Island Golf Course.
Marquette's BIG EAST title is its first since 2008, when the Golden Eagles posted a three-day score of 874 to take their first-ever conference crown at Traditions Golf Course in Hebron, Kentucky. With the win, MU claims the BIG EAST's automatic berth to the NCAA Men's Golf Championships.
As the final group approached the 18th hole, Marquette (33-over-par) had a one-stroke advantage on second-place DePaul (35-over-par), which led the majority of the tournament.
On the par-4 18th, Sanchez had to settle for playing his third shot from off the green. His playing partners, DePaul's Freddy Thomas and Xavier's Jose Montano, made par on the hole, requiring Sanchez to make the clutch putt on his fourth shot to secure the championship for Marquette.
"Some of the up-and-downs for our team this week were awesome," coach Steve Bailey said. "Pat especially put himself in some crazy spots all week long, and recovered every time and made big shots."
Sanchez (73-73-69--215, 1-under-par), who went 3-under-par in the final round and finished regulation play as conference co-championwith Dylan Crowley of St. John's, fell on the third sudden-death playoff hole, giving Crowley an NCAA individual berth.
Clutch play on the back nine was key for the Golden Eagles on Tuesday - Marquette made par or better on 34 of 45 holes.
"Our guys didn't know exactly where they stood down the stretch," Bailey said. "But they could sense it from the other teams and were ready for the opportunity to step up. It got the juices flowing."
The Golden Eagles saw their fortunes change positively each day to finish with a team tally of 897 (304-297-296). MU sat fourth and five strokes behind DePaul after Sunday's opening round, and finished Monday's second round in third place and eight strokes behind the Blue Demons. Marquette's final round score of 296 (8-over-par) was 10 strokes better than the field's other eight teams.
Along with Sanchez, the best play on the back nine for MU came from Nick Nelson and his three birdie makes, including the par-4 16th and the par-5 17th to come in 2-under-par. Nelson (77-75-73--225) jumped five spots in the standings on the final day to finish 10th.
Senior CJ Swift, who entered the day in a tie for 34th at 16-over-par, did his part by posting a critical run of three straight birdies on holes nine, 10 and 11 to close the gap for Marquette.
"Everybody helped at some point," Bailey said. "Looking back to the early rounds and what Brandon [Cloete] did to get us there with the way he played. Then Trevor [Thomas] hit one out of bounds on the 4th, and stepped up and roped the next one to get right back in it. Everyone did their part. Of all the shots we hit - it came down to two.
"I'm so proud of our guys - they've been in positions like this throughout the season, playing in final groups on final days. To have it come out on the right side on this stage is special."
While back nine play was key for the Golden Eagles, Sanchez set the tone early, as he birdied the par-4 first and fourth, and the par-5 sixth to jump three spots and move to 1-under-par for the championships. The 1-under score held for Sanchez thanks to eight straight par makes, beginning with the seventh and ending with a bogey on the par-3 15th. While his lead grew to three shots over the field, Crowley birdied three of the first five holes on his final nine to move into a tie with Sanchez.
Marquette will learn its NCAA Regional tournament destination on Monday, May 4, during the 9 a.m. CT hour of Golf Channel's Morning Drive. Regional round play is May 14-16 at a location to be determined. Golf Channel is the exclusive television home of the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships, June 1-3 at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida.
Sanchez and Swift were playing in their third career BIG EAST championships, while freshman Trevor Thomas was competing in his first ... Sanchez posted identical 54-hole scores of 222 in each of his first two trips to the championships ... Sanchez posted the tournament's top par-4 scoring average at 3.93 and had 37 par makes, third-best ... Nelson improved 12 spots on his his finish from a season ago, when he came in 21st ... His 10 birdies were sixth-best in the tournament ... Thomas was key for MU as well on the back nine, piling up seven straight par makes ... MU won, despite having only two players finish in the top-15 ... The Golden Eagles made their move Tuesday when average scoring was 77.69, the second-highest day ... Marquette was runners-up to St. John's in last season's BIG EAST Championships.