Pacific Palisades, Calif. -
The No. 16 Virginia men's golf team turned in its best single-round score during the final round of stroke play at the NCAA Championships to finish in a tie for 22nd place. The Cavaliers shot 6-over 290 Thursday at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., for a three-day total of 36-over 888. The top eight teams from the 30-team field advanced to the match play portion of the tournament, scheduled to run through Sunday.
Alabama won stroke play at 7-over 859. UCLA was second at 861 followed by Texas (869), California (871), San Diego State (871), Washington (872) and Oregon (873). Kent State and Florida State tied for eighth place at 875 and will have a sudden death playoff to determine the final team for match play.
Illinois' Thomas Pieters took medalist honors at 5-under 208. He finished three shots ahead of TCU's Julien Brun and Florida's Tyler McCumber.
After shooting 22-over 306 during the first round, the Cavaliers were a long shot to advance to match play, but head coach Bowen Sargent was proud of the way his team bounced back for the two days of play.
"It was nice to see the two seniors, Ben (Kohles) and Bruce (Woodall), play well today," Sargent said. "I thought they were real resilient the last two rounds and came back and played two really nice rounds."
"We had a really rough start, being in last place," Kohles said. "We just put ourselves in too big of a hole. The guys then played great. We had two good rounds. If we could have played the first round like we did the last two, we could probably have made the match play. It just shows the resilience of our guys."
Kohles led the team during the final round with an even par 71 that included three birdies and three bogeys. Kohles drained a 40-foot putt on his next-to-last hole to draw back to even and then watched a putt on his last hole come to rest on the edge of the cup or he would have completed his final collegiate round under par.
Kohles ended the tournament in 69th place at 10-over 223.
"I struggled in the first round, which wasn't very much fun," Kohles said. "I kind of got my swing back and played well today. It was a blast to get that birdie on my 17th hole. It fell in on the last rotation of the ball. That was pretty cool."
Senior Bruce Woodall was UVa's highest finisher in 37th place, shooting 5-over 218 for the 54-hole event. He carded a round of 1-over 72 Thursday.
"I hit a lot of fairways and putted really well which helped me," Woodall said. "I was excited to come out here. We worked real hard and I thought we had a good chance. I tried to stay calm and collected and tried to play the moment down and play it just like we were just out at Birdwood."
Ben Rusch, the 2012 ACC Champion, rebounded for his best round of the tournament, posting a score of 1-over 72 after recording back-to-back rounds of 78 on the first two days. He in finished in 114th place at 15-over 228.
Denny McCarthy, the ACC Freshman of the Year, carded a 75 on the final day and finished 77th at 11-over 224. Classmate Ji Soo Park shot 79 and finished 140th at 233.
"The first day we didn't really play all that well but nobody gives up on the team and they never have," Woodall said. "We have been behind the eight ball several times before and played good final rounds and have battled back. Nobody ever quits on this team and that starts from the top with coach Sargent and coach (Jay) Fisher. They never quit on us so we won't quit on them."
The tournament marked the third time in the last four years Virginia has advanced to the NCAA Championships.
Riviera Country Club
Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Par-71, 7,292 yards
Final Stroke Play Results
1. Alabama 285-287-287-859
2. UCLA 289-287-285-861
3. Texas 290-295-284-869
4. California 295-289-287-871
4. San Diego State 292-295-284-871
6. Washington 296-286-290-872
6. Oregon 291-294-288-873
8. Kent State 293-291-291-875
8. Florida State 290-290-295-875
10. Liberty 295-288-293-876
11. Oklahoma 289-292-296-877
12. North Florida 290-291-297-878
12. Florida 288-296-294-878
14. Texas A&M 298-296-285-879
15. Auburn 288-299-293-880
15. USC 298-286-296-880
17. Georgia 295-298-288-881
18. Chattanooga 299-295-290-884
19. Stanford 293-302-290-885
19. UCF 290-298-297-885
21. Illinois 295-289-303-887
22. Iowa 290-299-299-888
22. Virginia 306-292-290-888
24. Virginia Tech 299-302-289-890
25. Lamar 299-303-290-892
26. East Carolina 295-303-297-895
27. TCU 299-299-299-897
28. Memphis 299-302-300-901
29. UAB 297-303-302-902
30. Tulsa 306-307-305-918
1. Thomas Pieters, Illinois 69-68-71-208
2. Julien Brun, TCU 72-72-67-211
2. Tyler McCumber, Florida 68-71-72-211
4. Patrick Cantlay, UCLA 74-72-66-212
4. Corey Conners, Kent State 68-75-69-212
4. Cory Whitsett, Alabama 73-68-71-212
7. Blayne Barber, Auburn 69-74-70-213
7. Justin Thomas, Alabama 70-70-73-213
37. Bruce Woodall 71-75-72-218
69. Ben Kohles 78-74-71-223
77. Denny McCarthy 79-70-75-224
114. Ben Rusch 78-78-72-228
140. Ji Soo Park 81-73-79-233