Men’s Golf: Cavaliers’ season ends with loss against Auburn in NCAA match play

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

Photo: UVA Athletics

After falling behind early in several matches, a valiant comeback by the Virginia men’s golf team came up short as the ninth-ranked Cavaliers were eliminated by top-ranked Auburn in the quarterfinals of match play at the NCAA Championships. The Tigers defeated UVA 3-1 with one match unfinished at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif.

Starting on the 10th tee, all five of the Cavaliers trailed by their third hole except for George Duangmanee, who won his second hole and never trailed on the way to a 2&1 win against Auburn’s Brendan Valdes. His brother, Josh Duangmanee, lost his first hole and trailed by as many as three holes in his 2&1 loss to Carson Bacha, that gave the Tigers their first point.

UVA’s Bryan Lee battled back to tie his match on three occasions but fell behind after losing the 13th hole in the match and lost 2&1 to Josiah Gilbert.

After falling behind by three holes, Deven Patel fought back to tie his match with four holes to play. With the match tied on the 18th hole, Patel’s birdie attempt caught the edge of the cup but would not fall. Auburn freshman Jackson Koivun, the SEC and national player of the year, drained his eight-foot putt to win the match and advance the Tigers to the afternoon’s semifinal matches.

Ben James, who was playing behind Patel, was tied with J.M. Butler and on that group’s 16th hole when the match was decided.

“We got down early in most every match,” said Virginia coach Bowen Sargent. “Against the number-one team in the country, that’s not ideal. But I thought they fought back and played valiant. We flipped a couple matches and it came down to the fourth match on the last hole. The Ben Hogan Player of the Year (Jackson Koivun) is standing there with an 8-footer, and you probably knew he was going to make it and he did. Devin (Patel) hit a hell of a putt and it just didn’t go in.”

The Cavaliers qualified for match play at the tournament for the second consecutive year. UVA finished third in stroke play, the best performance by Virginia at the NCAA Championships. James was one of five players who tied for second in the stroke play that decided the national championship.

Virginia only loses George Duangmanee from its NCAA lineup for next season.

“It’s a special group,” Sargent said of his 20th team at UVA. “We’ve been together for two years and we’re going to have another year next year. I’m excited for next year, but I’m really proud of them.

“It’s hard to get here (to match play) and we’ve done it two years in a row. We’ve got most everybody coming back, so we’re excited for the future. I think our program is in good shape.”


A trio of Virginia players picked up honorable mention All-America honors thanks to their respective finishes during stroke play. That group included James, and the Duangmanee brothers. Players finishing in the top 15 (plus ties) following the third or fourth round are presented the honor. The College Golf Coaches Association will name its first and second team All-Americans at a later date. It marks the first time UVA has had three All-Americans in the same season.

Virginia vs. Auburn
Quarterfinal Match Play Results
Carson Bacha (AU) def. Josh Duangmanee (UVA) 2&1
George Duangmanee (UVA) def. Brendan Valdes (AU) 2&1
Josiah Gilbert (UA) def. Bryan Lee (UVA) 2&1
Jackson Koivun (UA) def. Deven Patel (UVA) 1Up
Ben James (UVA) vs. J.M. Butler (UA) Undecided