OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – 10th-ranked Texas Tech's remarkable comeback is complete. The Red Raiders are heading to match play for the first in history and are assured of their third Top-10 finish in program history.
"Unbelievable," said Texas Tech head coach Greg Sands. "We played great. We played so bad in the first round that we were due for something. It just all came together today. I am proud of the guys fighting until the end and we needed every shot we could get and things fell our way. We are looking forward to a great match tomorrow against Florida State."
Texas Tech will enter match play as the No. 7 seed and will face No. 2 seed Florida State who was edged out of the lead spot today by the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The match against the Seminoles will get underway at approximately 9:30 a.m. (CT).
The Red Raiders posted one of the more memorable comebacks in program history as Tech ended the first day of play in 27th place after posting a team score of 302 (14-over). Tech regrouped quickly and began its rise on Wednesday morning by shaving 17 strokes off its total from the day before and ended round two with a score of 285 (3-under).
And then, there was today.
Led by senior Chris Ward and junior Matt Smith, Texas Tech rocked the tournament field on Thursday morning by posting a third-round total of 280 for 8-under par. Tech's third-round score of 280 ranks as the third best of the season for the Red Raiders behind rounds of 271 and 279 at the Gary Koch Invitational.
The Red Raiders were boosted today by the play of Ward and Smith who posted third-round totals of 67 (5-under par). Coming into this tournament, the course record was 67 set by Tiger Woods during the 1996 NCAA Championships when he took home medalist honors. A new course record was established today by Oregon State's Diego Velasquez who fired a 66 in the same group with Tech's Tyler Weworski.
Ward and Smith were huge for the Red Raiders this afternoon and today's round will give Ward a great chance of earning All-America honors at the end of the year. Perhaps the biggest play of the day came on the back nine on hole No. 11 when Matt Smith eagled a par-5 to help give the Red Raiders a 9-under total to that point. Smith, who shot 8-over on Tuesday, tied his season best round with today's score of 67 which he did once earlier this year at the Aggie Invitational in College Station.
Sophomore Tyler Weworski continued his strong play in this tournament by logging a third-round score of 70 and finished 2-under par.
A total of eight teams will face off in match play and it will be a single elimination format. The championship match is scheduled for noon on Sunday.
Match Play Seeds
- Oklahoma State
- Florida State
- Georgia Tech
- Augusta State
- 7. Texas Tech
- TBA (a four-team play-off for the No. 8 seed will begin at 7 a.m. (CT).