Clean sweep: Razorbacks collect hardware on home course

By: Ethan Westerman
Published: Thursday, October 7, 2021
Arkansas golfers, including individual champion Luke Long (right), celebrate after winning The Blessings Collegiate Invitational on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Johnson.
( J.T. Wampler)
Arkansas golfers, including individual champion Luke Long (right), celebrate after winning The Blessings Collegiate Invitational on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Johnson.

JOHNSON — Mateo Fernandez De Oliveira took a deep breath, lined up his club and gave the ball a ride from 225 yards out on the 13th hole at The Blessings Golf Club.

All it took was one swing for the junior from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“I’m still shocked,” Fernandez De Oliveira said. “I hit a really good shot, and then I heard all the people over there yelling and cheering. I was just immediately in shock.

“I will always remember that moment.”

It was the first hole-in-one of his career, putting a cherry on top of a dominant tournament from the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The feat captured how the event went for both the University of Arkansas men’s and women’s golf teams, completing a clean sweep of the 2021 Blessings Collegiate Invitational championships.

Brooke Matthews (Rogers) defended her crown from a year ago, going 4-under 212 over the three-round stroke-play tournament. Despite three bogeys in the final round, Matthews kept enough composure to protect the BCI title.

“I didn’t have quite my best game today but was able to play smart and finish it off,” she said. “I was lucky to have such a good team with me all playing well. They brought me right back up when I got down a couple of times. We’ve got a good team, and we’re just ready to keep using the momentum through the rest of the season.”

After trailing UCLA by six strokes after the first 18 holes, the Razorbacks out-shot the runner-up Bruins by 25 strokes over the final two rounds to win in commanding fashion.

Junior Julia Gregg led the Razorbacks on Wednesday with a 4-under 68. The Razorbacks finished the event with a 9-under 855.

“This is really special,” Arkansas women’s Coach Shauna Taylor said. “It just reminds me that there are so many different ways to win. Today was a little bit tougher for Brooke who was struggling a little bit, but to see the other girls step up in that moment made me really proud.

“To win at home in front of our fans and families is tremendous. Kudos to our team’s hard work and the time they’ve been putting in on and off the golf course.

In the men’s division, Luke Long (Fayetteville) secured the individual medal by posting an 11-under 205 over the 54 holes. The championship didn’t come without any drama.

After Fernandez De Oliveira’s ace, it looked as if he might surpass Long for the title.

“There was absolutely some friendly competition there,” Long said with a smile on his face. “I wasn’t really sure in the moment where I was standing with Mateo on the board but knew he had some really good rounds going.”

Long ultimately secured the win by responding with an eagle on the par-5 15th hole, something he and Fernandez De Oliveira celebrated.

“I was just so excited for him making that ace, but he was just as excited for me to make the eagle on 15. He was the first one there to come give me a slap and tell me congrats."

The duo finished first and second place, separated by three strokes.

As a team, Arkansas ran away from the field. Segundo Oliva Pinto shot 2-under 70 and Wil Gibson went even-par to help the team to an overall 7-under 281 on the final round.

The Hogs completed the invitational 13 strokes ahead of second-place Arizona, posting an 18-under 846.

“It was just a great week for us,” Arkansas men’s Coach Brad McMakin said. “I’m super proud of our guys, and really for Luke getting this moment.

“To win a tournament with this caliber of teams is big. We got a little bit behind the 8-ball today early on, but the guys stepped up and really played some good golf. This was a phenomenal event, and I’m just happy for our team.”

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