Cards advance to NCAA Championship

U of L wins a tight four-team battle to claim one of the final two qualifying spots in the NCAA regional at the U of L Golf Club in Simpsonville. 

SIMPSONVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Mark Crabtree has been through countless tense final rounds in 19 years as the University of Louisville men's golf coach. On three other occasions in 11 appearances, his Cardinals advanced past the regional stage to the NCAA Championships, most recently in 2016. 

But there was something about this one, on the Cardinals home course with Louisville fans out rooting for his team, that really got to Crabtree.

"A year ago, we sat at the table at Ohio State, and we had not advanced," Crabtree said. "I told them that day that I would do everything in my power to see if we couldn't get there, and we sit here."

Crabtree then started to choke up and broke down, unable to speak for about twenty seconds. 

"When you've done it a long time, it means a lot," Crabtree said. "I'm really proud of the kids and very thankful."    

In a team format where the top four out of five scores count over three rounds of play, the Cardinals finished with 859 total shots on the U of L Golf Club in Simpsonville. That was one shot better than North Florida for fourth place overall. The top five teams advance, so both teams move on to next week's Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. West Virginia missed by a couple shots. 

The top three teams separated themselves from the field with top-ranked and defending national champion Oklahoma State going 7-under as a team on the final day to overtake Auburn for the region title. Baylor was third. 

Sophomore Matthias Schmid paced the Cardinals with a 6-under 207 total after a final-round 71. He finished second individually. Junior John Murphy had a final-round 69 and tied for 13th at 211. His par putt on the team's final hole helped clinch the trip to Arkansas. 

"We've come close a lot this semester," Murphy said. "In some pressure situations, we've played good golf but just didn't manage to get it done. I think we got it done at the best time of all."

The NCAA Championships are May 23-29 at the Blessings Course in Fayettevile.   

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