March 24, 2010
MARANA, Ariz. --- Thanks again to freshman John Catlin's late heroics, the University of New Mexico men's golf team came from behind to score a dramatic 3-2 win over Southern California and claim the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship Tuesday afternoon.
As with the previous three rounds, the Lobos' championship match was decided on the last hole. With both teams having notched a pair of one-sided wins to knot the score at 2, Catlin's match with USC's John Trainer would both go to a sudden-death 19th hole and decide the championship.
Catlin found himself down two holes with two to play, but won both, bringing the match back to all square and sending the match to a sudden-death hole. Catlin drained a snaking 35-foot putt along a ridge on the 18th green to square the match and force the sudden-death playoff finish.
On the first playoff hole, Trainer hit his tee shot off the fairway and in the desert and had to punch out while Catlin hit his approach shot 30 feet from the hole.
After Catlin rolled his birdie putt 8 inches past the hole, Trainer conceded the putt - ending the match and giving the Lobos the title.
"Coming down the stretch I was committed to hit quality golf shots and I did it," Catlin said. "It feels great, especially knowing how much it all meant for the team."
Catlin sent New Mexico to the championship on Monday when he won his match against Texas A&M's Jordan Russell on the 18th hole, again breaking a 2-2 team tie.
"To get any win, anytime, is great," coach Glen Millican said. "To win one like this, with this (match play) format, on such an outstanding venue and against such a great field (14 teams ranked in the top 50, including seven in the top 15) makes it even more special.
"The guys have worked hard all season and this should make them feel good about what they're doing," Millican said. "I think this shows them they're capable of playing some great golf."
New Mexico, seeded 15th entering the Calloway match play, beat four consecutive higher seeds to get to the title match. Washington was seeded No. 2, San Diego No. 10, Texas A&M No. 3 and USC No. 8. The Lobos are the lowest seeded team ever to advance to the championship match, much less win it.
New Mexico, which dropped in ranking from 47th to 52nd Monday morning, has now beaten the sixth, 26th, fourth and 13th-ranked teams in succession over the past three days.
The Lobos' Travis Ross beat Steve Lim, 5 and 4, and Brandon Putnam defeated Stewart Hagestad, 4 and 2 to give New Mexico its first two points and tie the team match. Catlin and Trainer battled it out to determine the team championship from that point forth.