The Virginia Men’s golf team is enjoying their time in Arizona and decided to extend their stay for at least one more day as they advanced to the matchplay portion of the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history.
Carding a team score of -3 on the day, good for the third best team score in the field for the day, UVA vaulted from 10th to finish in 7th and advance. The NCAA Championship is set up with all teams competing in two days of stroke play with the top 15 teams advancing to a third an final day. After the third day, the top 8 teams advance to the matchplay portion of the Championship, with the winner to be crowned on Wednesday after the finals.
Deven Patel’s birdie on 9, UVA’s 18th hole, moved UVA to +11 for the tournament with a few teams still left on the course. Despite being ahead of the Hoos when UVA finished, Arizona State and Stanford faltered down the stretch to finish one behind the Cavaliers.
Without a doubt the star for the Cavaliers has been Freshman phenom, Ben James. James’ -4 tournament gave him a sixth place finish which tied Denny McCarthy’s 2014 finish at the NCAA Tournament. James has five victories on the season and finished in the top 5 of 10 of UVA’s 13 team tournaments.
With the Cavaliers assured a Top 8 finish, they’ve already achieved their best finish at the NCAA Championship. Since the NCAA switched to the current format having a matchplay for the final 8 in 2009, UVA had never made the matchplay portion, with their best finish coming in 2017 when the team finished in 10th.
Virginia will face the Florida Gators in the quarterfinals on Tuesday with their match being the first off Tuesday morning at 6:20 local time (MST). As a team, Florida shot 2-under and finished in 2nd of the stroke play portion behind UNC’s 6 under. The Cavaliers’ final round 3 under beat Florida’s 1 under, which could give UVA confidence heading in to their match. Florida will not be a push over as they will feature the Individual Champion, Fred Biondi, whose 7 under was not only the best in the field, but also the only total to feature four scores in the 60s.