Vandy tops Hogs in SEC men's golf championship

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, April 25, 2021
A Razorback head cover sits in a golf bag at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers during practice rounds for the Walmart NWA Arkansas Championship.
( Jason Ivester)
A Razorback head cover sits in a golf bag at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers during practice rounds for the Walmart NWA Arkansas Championship.

Vanderbilt sophomore William Moll calmly sank a 3-foot par putt to send the Commodores to a 3-2 match play victory over the University of Arkansas to claim the SEC Championship on Sunday at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.

Moll’s short putt made him a 1 up winner over Arkansas freshman Manuel Lozada, whose 9-foot putt seconds earlier looked to be in the cup, to send the match to extra holes. However, the putt hit the right edge and lipped out.

No. 15 Vanderbilt won its second SEC championship, following a victory in 2017.

The No. 22 Razorbacks were trying to defend their 2019 SEC Championship after last year’s event was cancelled due to covid-19, and also to win their third title since entering the SEC.

Arkansas junior Segundo Oliva Pinto played as brilliantly on Sunday as he did all week, closing out Vanderbilt’s Harrison Ott 4 & 2 in the third pairing to give his team a 2-1 lead.

Pinto won the individual championship with a 6 under on Friday, then went 3-0 in match play. The junior from Cordoba, Argentina, played the front nine in 31 in the championship match to lead by three. He was 6 under in the round after sinking a 4-foot birdie on No. 15 to win.

“I think this was my best round, along with my first round of stroke play,” Pinto told the SEC Network. “In this match I decided I was going to go after every pin, no matter what, and I knew it might cost me some but I guess it worked out in the end.”

Arkansas Coach Brad McMakin choked up when addressing his team moments after the match.

“I’m so proud of you,” McMakin could be heard saying on the telecast. “Maybe even more proud than [the 2019 SEC championship] team. The University of Arkansas should be very proud of you guys.”

Said Vanderbilt Coach Scott Limbaugh on the SEC Network telecast, “We absolutely knew going against that team right there it would take our very best effort. Just happy for those guys. It’s obviously been a trying year, but we came together as a group and I’m proud of the way they represent us.”

The first two matches yielded a point for both teams.

In the first pairing, Vandy freshman Cole Sherwood got out in front of William Buhl early, withstood a run from the senior, then pulled back ahead for a 4 & 2 triumph.

Arkansas junior Julian Perico routed Commodores’ sophomore Matthew Riedel 6 & 5 in the fifth pairing for his first win of match play to tie it up at 1-1.

Pinto’s point gave Arkansas a 2-1 lead, but at that point the Commodores led both of the remaining matches, which were tight.

Vanderbilt junior Reid Davenport nudged ahead of Arkansas senior Tyson Reeder with a birdie on the par 5 15th and held on from there for a 1 up win, leaving the Moll-Lozada pairing as the winning point.

Lozada made clutch putts on both the 16th and 17th to win and halve those holes and trailed by one entering the 18th. Moll’s 20-footer for birdie went wide and left, leaving the 3-footer. Lozada’s putt looked dead on, but looped the hole around the right lip. The freshman flipped his putter in the air with an expression of disbelief after the putt did not fall, then congratulated his opponent.

In the morning matches, Arkansas eliminated 8 seed Texas A&M 3-1-1, while Vanderbilt routed 2 seed Alabama 4-1.

Lozada scored the winning point for the second consecutive match, sinking a 9-foot par putt on No. 6 to close out Dan Erickson 4 & 3 in the fourth pairing.

Pinto and Buhl also won their matches, while Reeder’s matched was halved through 16 holes when Lozada clinched. Perico was trailing Texas A&M junior Sam Bennett by three holes with four to play at the finish.

Buhl and Lozada went 2-1 in match play, while Perico was 1-2 and Reeder 0-2-1.

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