By Cameron Jourdan
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
STILLWATER, Okla. — Davis Riley knew he had a chance at back-to-back eagles, but he will take the one he hit.
On No. 6, Davis smacked the 88-yard shot into the cup, sparking a back-nine rally for the Alabama men’s golf team. The Crimson Tide is advancing to match play at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2014.
“I’m so proud,” Alabama coach Jay Seawell said. “Today is so hard. The cutline was everywhere, and it felt like there were 10 teams within a shot. We had a good start, and I was really proud of that.”
Riley led Alabama, firing a 1-under par 71 to help clinched the sixth seed for match play, which begins Tuesday. Alabama is matched up with third-seeded Texas Tech.
Host and top-ranked Oklahoma State garnered the top seed. The winner of the Alabama and Texas Tech match will face the winner of Duke and Texas Tuesday afternoon.
Riley’s shot on No. 5 was about an inch from the cup, and he said it nearly spun in. Although no players on this Alabama team have played in a match play event at the NCAA Championships, Riley said their focus doesn’t have to change much from stroke play.
“We made a big-time play today,” Riley said. “It paid off, and we’re in match play. We have still got some work to do.
“Our mindset is kind of the same thing, but you just have to beat the guy next to you. Gameplan is very similar.”