This past weekend, the No. 25 Mountaineer golf team rode a wave of momentum, including a big win in the previous week’s Health Plan Mountaineer Invitational and their first ever top-25 ranking, into the Big 12 Match Play tournament in Houston, Texas.
First rounds began on Friday, where WVU lead most of the way but, ultimately, lost a heartbreaker against No. 10 Texas, 4-1-1, even with junior Logan Perkins’ hole-in-one on the ninth hole.
Despite the results, the Mountaineers played well during the day. Senior Etienne Papineau came back to win after being down early to Texas’ Pierceson Coody, which saw Papineau win six holes en route to a three stroke victory while freshman Nico Lang lost his early lead to Texas’ Spencer Soosman and fell short by one stroke.
"We played the national runner up very tight, either winning or taking the match all the way to the final hole," West Virginia head coach Sean Covich said. "It's never a good feeling losing but certainly proud of our guys and I think we will be a better team for having fought Texas this close."
Saturday’s matches saw the Mountaineers split the day between No. 6 Texas Tech, whom they fell to 4-1-1, and TCU, which saw the Mountaineers claim their first victory of the tournament, 2-1-3.
Against the aforementioned Red Raiders, junior Mark Goetz won his match by defeating TTU’s Markus Braadlie, while Perkins tied his match against Ludvig Aberg in the team defeat.
Lang and junior Matthew Sharpstene both were victorious against the Horned Frogs in the afternoon. Lang finished one up on TCU’s Justin Gums, while Sharpstene beat Aymeric Laussot by four strokes thanks to a fantastic hole on the 14th hole.
Both Papineau and Philipp Matlari dropped their matches against TTU’s Sandy Scott and Andy Lopez by five and four, respectively. Both bounced back in the afternoon however, Matlari tied TCU’s Gustav Frimodt and Papineau came back to sink the match winning putt in a tie against Thomas Alkins.
"I'm proud of the guys today," head coach Sean Covich said after Saturday’s matches. "We had a great match with TCU and came out on top. We need to keep it rolling into tomorrow's final two matches."
On the final day of the tournament, WVU lined up against Iowa State in the morning round where they came away with a convincing 4-1-1 win, their second in a row. Papineau dominated
against ISU’s Sam Vincent, winning by five strokes. Sharpstene and Matlari both won their matches by one stroke, while Lang tied in his matchup.
In the final round of the tournament, the Mountaineers faced off against Oklahoma State, where they came away with a tie. Lang beat OSU’s Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen by an impressive six strokes, Papineau won by four strokes over OSU’s Brian Stark, and Perkins won by three strokes over Austin Eckroat, respectively.
The Mountaineers will travel next week to Isleworth Golf and Country Club for the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational in Lake Butler, Florida, on Oct. 20-22.