🏌️♂️ Freshman King Advances to NCAA Championship After 8 Playoff Holes
NORMAN, Okla. – Freshman Will King outlasted Hugo Townsend from Ole Miss on the eighth playoff hole early Wednesday evening at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club to advance to the NCAA Championship.
King, a true freshman from Olathe, put together rounds of 68-71-68 to tie Townsend as the top individual in the field from a non-advancing team. With the top individual advancing to the NCAA Championship at Grayhawk Golf Club, the two went to a sudden death playoff where they matched each other shot for shot for the first seven playoff holes, rotating holes one and nine.
On the eighth playoff hole, King got to within five feet for birdie and knocked it in after Townsend bogeyed to secure the spot at Grayhawk in his first-ever postseason.
“It was a long, grinder of a day, but I can’t wait for Scottsdale,” King said. “It was a lot of fun. That’s why you play. By hole four, you’re just in a daze playing, not feeling any nerves. It was a lot of fun. Hugo is a great player. It was fun to battle that out.”
As a team, the 10th-seeded Jayhawks posted their best round of the NCAA Norman Regional on Wednesday in the third and final round, shooting a 7–under 281 and finishing in ninth, ahead of No. 20 Ole Miss.
Alabama, ranked No. 17 nationally, won the Norman Region at -28, followed by No. 9 Oklahoma (-25), Colorado (-23), No. 5 Texas Tech (-22) and No. 32 Duke (-21) as the five teams advancing to the NCAA Championship in Arizona. Duke outlasted North Florida by one stroke on the final hole to advance.
Texas Tech’s Ludvig Aberg, the No. 1 amateur in the world, won the tournament at -14, one shot ahead of Oklahoma’s Drew Goodman. King, KU’s top finisher, finished five shots back of Aberg and tied for fourth with Townsend and Nick Dunlap from Alabama in the 70-plus golfer field.
King started on No. 10 and shot even par on his front. He was lights out on his back nine though, shooting a 4-under 32 with no bogeys and four birdies. He birdied the par-five eighth, which runs 600 yards to pull within one of Townsend, who when bogeyed No. 18, forcing the playoff. He put together two birdies and six pars during the eight-hole playoff, eventually outlasting the Ole Miss senior.
“I’m super excited for Will,” Coach Jamie Bermel said. “Coach Wilson was with him during the entire playoff and the two of them were a great team out there. It is very difficult to get the individual spot and our freshman went toe-to-toe with a fifth-year graduate transfer and came out on top in a dog fight.”
After King, junior William Duquette shot a 1-under 71 for the second straight day and finished tied for 35th overall at -1 for the tournament. Junior Cecil Belisle had his best round of the regional with a 2-under 70 and finished tied for 48th at +1. Junior Davis Cooper finished his tournament with an even-par 72 to finish tied for 53rd at +3. Junior Gunnar Broin shot a 74 and finished tied for 61st at +9.
“I’m disappointed for the team, but we gained a lot of experience this week, and I know this will motivate all the guys to work hard this summer and hopefully get another shot in 2024 with different results,” Bermel said.