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Closing birdie sends clutch TCU into playoff with Georgia Tech to stay alive at NCAAs

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – As he stood on the ninth tee field on a brutally sizzling Sunday afternoon at Grayhawk Golf Club, TCU’s Aymeric Laussot knew what he had to do to maintain his crew’s season alive.

He had to make birdie.

So, the sophomore from Paris grabbed his trusty 2-iron, the membership that had helped him keep away from hassle all day, and cut up the green, leaving himself 170 yards into the inexperienced. His pitching wedge then discovered the again portion of the placing floor, about 12 ft away from the outlet.

“At that moment all I could think about was my team,” Laussot mentioned.

With the remainder of the Horned Frogs gathered carefully and holding their collective breath, Laussot put an ideal roll on the putt and sank it to transfer TCU to 32 over, even with Georgia Tech in a tie for fifteenth, to drive a crew playoff Monday morning for the correct to play a fourth and last spherical at this NCAA Championship.

The fifteenth spot shall be decided by a 5-count-5 format on gap Nos. 14-18 at 10:30 a.m. ET.

“I had a lot of birdie opportunities from that distance today, and I kept missing them,” Laussot mentioned. “Then I missed a 4-footer for par on the seventh hole, and I said to myself, ‘Now you’re facing the wall, so just play,’ and I ended up birdieing 9.”

Laussot’s even-par 70 paced TCU, which didn’t have a participant shoot worse than 73 on Sunday. On the ultimate 9, whereas most groups had been wilting, the Horned Frogs’ 4 counters mixed to shoot even par with three birdies on the ultimate gap.

“They just kept hanging in there and hanging in there, and it seemed like it kept going back and forth,” TCU head coach Bill Montigel mentioned. “I’d look at the scores and one time we’d be in 18th, and then next thing you know we’re back on the number, and the next thing you know they tell me Ricky’s gotta make a putt to send it to a playoff.”

As the drama unfolded at Grayhawk, Georgia Tech head coach Bruce Heppler was sitting on his lodge mattress and refreshing Golfstat.

“Every 8 seconds for two hours,” Heppler mentioned.

Earlier within the day, the Yellow Jackets shot 15-over 295, the worst spherical of the morning wave by six pictures.

“They were disappointed, and I was, too,” Heppler mentioned. “We didn’t finish very well yesterday or today. And at that point, it seemed like a long ways away. We probably figured we were done, to be honest with you.”

But they aren’t. Georgia’s Davis Thompson double-bogeyed the par-4 18th to drop the Bulldogs to 33 over. SMU and Tennessee additionally got here up a shot quick. And now, Heppler will coach in a fourth playoff at the NCAA Championship. He was an assistant at Oklahoma State for playoff wins in 1992, when the Cowboys made the 36-hole reduce, and 1995, when Oklahoma State took down Tiger Woods and Stanford for the NCAA title. As a head coach at Georgia Tech, he’s 0-1, shedding the nationwide championship in a playoff to Oklahoma State in 2000.

“You thought you were going home,” Heppler mentioned, “and now you have a chance.”

While Georgia Tech is feeling a bit fortunate to be on this place, TCU, which boasts all freshmen and sophomores in its lineup this week, is driving fairly the wave of momentum. The Horned Frogs have been for the previous two months.

After ending twentieth at The Goodwin in late March, TCU was exterior the highest 70 within the nationwide rankings and advancing to a thirty first straight NCAA regional appeared to be a tall process. But the Horned Frogs rallied, ending second and first in two Phoenix-area tournaments (they beat Arizona State, Oklahoma State and North Carolina at the latter) to finish the common season earlier than ending fourth at the Big 12 Championship. They simply made it into regionals after which earned the ultimate ticket out of Tallahassee, Florida.

The development of clutch performances continued Sunday, so why not one other day?

“I think at this point,” Montigel mentioned, “just go enjoy it and have fun.”

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