Despite a strong third round that had No. 10 ranked Wake Forest in the running until the final few holes, the men’s golf team failed to advance to the NCAA Championships.
There was some good news, as No. 4 (individually) ranked Will Zalatoris advanced to the NCAA Championships as an individual by virtue of shooting the best score by a player not on a team that qualified to move on.
Wake Forest was one of the favorites in the region, placed as the second seed in the Austin region behind No. 3 Oklahoma State, but finished sixth, 4 shots outside of the cutline for advancing.
Iowa State’s No. 95 ranked Nick Voke won the individual title at -13, shooting an incredible 61 (-10) in the final round.
Oklahoma State finished first at -13, while No. 16 Texas, No. 50 Iowa State, No. 22 Ole Miss, and No. 26 Arizona State claimed the other spots to move on.
Last year in the NCAA Regionals it required late day heroics out of Kyle Strebinsky to overcome a 7 shot deficit with 9 holes to play. There was no such luck this year, despite a final round career best 65 from the No. 5 seeded Lee Detmer.
Wake Forest came into the final round at +19, needing to get into at least 5th place to advance. Early on it looked like the Deacs might be able to do it, as Detmer shot a 32 (-4) on his front nine (the back nine of the course), and backed it up with a 33 (-2) coming in.
No. 3 Cameron Young and No. 4 Eric Bae both shot even-par rounds of 71, while Zalatoris shot a 69 (-2) to put Wake at -8 for the day and +11 for the tournament.
Arizona State was finishing up their round on the back nine and Wake needed two bogeys from the Sun Devils on the 18th hole, which played the hardest of any hole on the course in the final round. Unfortunately for Wake Forest, the Sun Devils managed to grab two birdies to seal the deal and lock down the final spot.
In what was one of the strongest regular seasons ever for Wake Forest, ending the season in the NCAA Regionals is yet another disappointing performance in the postseason.
The Deacs finished third in the ACC Tournament, one that they have not won since 1989.
This has become a frustrating trend for Wake, as Coach Jerry Haas has managed to bring a lot of talent into Winston-Salem, but has not seen any postseason success yet.
Next year the Deacs will bring in four more highly ranked golfers, but there is the possibility of losing Zalatoris to the PGA Tour.
For a program that prides itself on a storied golf history and tradition, it may be time to take a step back and look to see what is preventing the team from getting the job done in the post-season. The talent is clearly there, but something is holding the team as a whole from reaching its full potential when the stakes are the highest.
Congrats to Will Zalatoris on advancing to the NCAA Championships, which will be held from May 26th-31st in Sugar Grove, Illinois. Also congratulations to the team on one of the best regular seasons ever. Unfortunately the season ended in an all too familiar disappointing feeling.